Tag Archives: musical instruments

Celebrate Music in Our Schools Month with Drum-Inspired Books

March is Music in Our Schools Month. In support of music programs, music educators, and wiggling students trying to sneak a beat, we are celebrating (global) Music in Our Schools Month with DRUMS!
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The Little Melba Playlist: A Jazz Music Primer from Frank Morrison

Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! With cooler weather comes fun indoor activities, like catching a great jazz show. We asked Frank Morrison, illustrator of our new picture book biography, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to share some of his favorite jazz numbers with us. Many of the artists below played or arranged with Melba Doretta Liston; others inspired Frank while he created his illustrations. So sit back with your cup of apple cider and let the rhythm carry you away!

  • John Coltrane: “Out of This World,” plus Coltrane’s albums The Inch Worm, Big Nick, and Giant Steps
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Illustrator April Chu Takes Us Behind the Art of Summoning the Phoenix

April ChuReleased in March, Summoning the Phoenix gives readers an inside look into centuries-old Chinese musical instruments and the more recently formed modern Chinese Orchestra. Children of all backgrounds  show that traditional Chinese music can be enjoyed by everyone. We asked illustrator April Chu to take us behind the scenes for creating the digital illustrations used in Summoning the Phoenix:

Illustration Process

1.  Before I do any sketching at all, I will read a manuscript over and over many times.  Sometimes I even close my eyes and just brainstorm ideas.  This step is important to me because this is when all the initial images and emotions I get from a story start forming in my head.  I also start doing research and compiling photos at this point as I did for Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments.  Researching is very important to me before I begin a project especially for a nonfictional picture book.  In this case, researching on the Internet was not adequate since I needed to have a good detailed look at each instrument.  Fortunately, the California Youth Chinese Symphony was kind enough to allow me to take photos during one of their practice sessions.  I was able to get a firsthand look at how the musical instruments were played, what they sounded like, and what they looked like in real life.  All those elements eventually shaped the final artwork.

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