When I play music for children,  I include lots of adult songs in the mix, along with songs that are just fun or interactive.  I’ve learned through experience that a child can access concepts in a song that are not age-appropriate, if I set that song up with a story that gives the kids contextual clues.  If I use a word they might not understand in context in the story, they’ll probably get it just fine when the word appears in the song later.  Including these songs has the obvious benefit of stretching the kids intellectual envelope in a way that’s fun, with music as a catalyst.

When I began assembling a children’s CD of material I use, I realized that a lot of the material I do wouldn’t work without the stories to set the songs up. The obvious solution was to record a live show with the stories.  Something about that solution felt too pat.  Then I hit upon an idea that excited me.

Why not let the parent or caretaker take my role in setting up the songs?

Put the stories in an illustrated book, and put the CD inside  !

Here’s how you use The Magic of Listening :    You take the CD from inside the front cover and cue it up.  Then you and your child sit together and read the first story, which sets up the first song.  You listen to the song together, and you can talk about it afterward.  Questions are included to help stimulate discussion.  You’ll find that this collection of music is rich in values and issues, and the music is absolutely first class.  Full song lyrics and suggestions for getting the most out of the book follow the stories.

My greatest hope is that this book make some significant contribution to the art of spending time with your children listening to each other, that it become a lifetime habit.
- Horace Williams, Jr. -

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"This book/CD is a clever concept -
a great way to spend time with your children
building listening and communication skills
while having fun.
Further, the music is excellent."

- Mary Azarian -
illustrator: Snowflake Bentley"
winner of the Caldecott Medal
for the most distinguished American picture book

Writer / Peformer  Horace Williams, Jr. has been entertaining children and adults alike for over 45 years with a vast collection of songs.  He typically sets songs up with anecdotes to give audience members reference points for songs they may not have heard before, and to keep them connected.  His genuine love of people and comic spirit  give a singular character to his shows.

Other activities include founding a summer camping program for the Rural Education center, state of Vermont, in 1984 that later became ‘Camp Exclamation Point’.  This summer will be the 28th season for this wonderful camp, which only costs parents a few dollars.  Horace conceived it so that children of families with little resources could also enjoy the benefit of a summer camp experience.

Horace balances his life by building houses and fine furniture, designing and building audio equipment, operating Little Castle Studio, and teaching at the Centre for Arts and Technology.

Illustrator / Peformer  Linda Jessica Elisabeth Alfsson is a full time nurse from Goteborg, Sweden, and has a lifelong passion for music, poetry, and art.

Underneath her gentle spirit is a wonderful comic nature that surfaces in her work. Jessica’s greatest gift is her kind replica watches nature, and her ability to be the kind of friend that you pray will last your lifetime.

Her drawings for this book  elegantly capture the essence and complexity of the songs, yet retain a childlike innocence.

Use of a computer based drawing program was intentional, with the hope that children (and adults?) who read these stories and hear these songs might try doing their own illustrations as well.  We wanted children to really feel like they are a part of this book.

This book is also a celebration
of my lifetime friendship with Jessica,
and the hundreds of hours we have spent
listening to each other,
which taught us both
the value and the magic
of listening.

Horace Williams, Performer/Entertainer
Skype:   horacewilliamsjr

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