little MT


Musical Tales is for the child or friend (8 – 11) who loves
– fantasy stories
– to draw and create characters
– to play music

click here for sample pages
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The Case of the Flying Note: A Detective Reed Mystery FN cover for site

Join Detective Reed on this musical mystery adventure as the detective chases a note that has flown from its music!

The themes of this story:
– the importance of knowing who you  are
– it is OK to accept help
– finishing creative projects is important and great fun!

click here for sample pages
click here to purchase this book

The Secret of Willow Wail: A Detective R
eed Mystery.  

Harold is writing the music for an upcoming show, but when he takes a break, some of the music flies away! Detective Reed is called in to help bring the music back before Harold returns. But where did the notes





Adventure on a Blue Moon: A Detective Reed Mystery

  • front cover fixedCelesta, a new quarter note really wants to know where she came from so Detective Reed takes her to the Blue Moon to find out where many fascinating events await them.

The themes of this story:
– the history of music
– it is fun and important to know where you come from.


click here for sample pages

click here to purchase this book



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When Buildings Speak is a book for the friend or relative who  A When Buildings cover

– is interested in historical architecture
– enjoys detailed pen and ink artwork
* Book samples are here.

Wrong Notes is a book of quotes about how making performance mistakes (mostly WN front covrmusical ones) can be helpful, fun and educational.

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Leaps of Imagination is for the friend or relative (or get it for yourself!) who needs creative inspiration.

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All My Treasures speaks to the child within us. These are IMG_1471the places where we  linger within the sound of leaves brushing against the wind.

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A poster set of the above quoted pageswith their accompanying illustrations are available in the store below.

click on any book for a samples page

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In Search of a Friend is for the very young  who are learning about friendship.
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BOOK REVIEWS of Musical Tales

By Sherry P. Todd , president of Tualatin Valley OMTA
(Oregon Music Teachers Association)

  • Fun, easy to read fantasy with whimsical characters who drop little musical terms and tidbits along the way. Perfect for a read out loud or middle grade 2-3-4 read alone book. I bought a bunch as gifts for adult music teachers and their students to enjoy!


By Amazon Customer on January 26, 2017

My children and I love this book! It is fun, creative and educational!

By P. Goldberg , musician/artist
Beautiful, sweet and wonderfully illustrated.

By Michelle Rae, age 14
Great book for children and adults! Super cool illustrations! Greatly recommended!!!

By Alexandria Weinbrecht, book editor

This book offers a delightful and fun way for children to learn about music within the context of a well-written story and colorful illustrations. A wonderful book, highly recommended!

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Contact Alice here:

Search and READ the BLOG MESSAGES below for

 Musical History facts and information









The Guitar Players in Ancient Greece


It was the lyre, harp or the kithara that guitarists would be playingThese string instruments were widely used in ancient Greece. They were played by all the professional musicians. The lyre and kithara were portable harp-like instruments played primarily to accompany dances and epic recitations, rhapsodies, odes, and lyric songs. It was also played solo at receptions, banquets, national games, and trials of skill. You could have been a citharede (a singer who used the cithara to accompany their singing). Cithara or kithara actually means “guitar” .


Or you might have been a chelys player. The chelys was a string instrument which had a tortoise shell back. It was believed that the god Hermes invented this instrument using the shell of a tortoise, two horns of an antelope and an added crossbar called the “live yoke. Hermes lashed these items together with reeds, added an animal skin as a resonator (most likely a goatskin) and strings. It was a gift for his half brother, Apollo. Apollo taught his son Orpheus to play it which inspired a famous painting called “Orpheus’ Lament” by 19C French painter, Alexandre Seon.


Which one would you pick to play?




What Happened? Musicians Share Their Musical Beginnings


Think about spending most or all of your life playing, practicing and performing music. What is it that makes musicians do this? How does it all begin? Here are some of their stories:

NealGrandstaffGuitarist and guitar teacher, Neal Grandstaff says it all started with an uncontrollable connection to sound. “ I heard rhythmic sounds and the rhythm of everything around me, Neal explains. “ You know… the white noise or the wind that sounds like a faint or sometimes profound musical piece…or the sounds that a fan can make or for that matter the ocean.

“I remember my mother saying something to me and my dad when I was 5-7 years old that when she talked it sounded like a song. Later life analysis tells me that rhymes and human speech have rhythms and catch phrases that, for whatever reason, my brain and, seemingly, my soul or chi or internal self, was and is drawn to.”

Mary Kogen, musician and taketina instructor says that when she was 7 year old, “I Mary pictook piano because one of my parents suggested that I do. Later we moved to the Bay Area, and I took from Madame Boris.  She was Russian and very old and had flabby upper arms.But did she love music.  When I would play Fur Elise, she would move around the room calling in a plaintive voice “Elise…EeeeLiiiseeee” It really worked! I quit when I was 11 or so…(I don’t know why…..maybe because my parents divorced….and sometime  later my mom (thank goodness) suggested I take lessons from this weird, wonderful lady  who smoked and wore curlers when she taught me.  I can still see her greeting me at the front door. She called me “sweetheart” and “honey”, and we just fooled around…mostly harmony and ragtime stuff. I loved her dangling cigarette and actually really enjoyed the lessons.  It improved my ear immensely.  As a matter of fact, I could play well by ear but couldn’t sightread,  but I kept very quiet about that.

“When I was 12 or 13 my Dad suggested I return to “real” lessons.  He rarely suggested anything to me, so I did. He didn’t chip in financially, so I cleaned my piano teacher’s house in return for lessons. She was a retired opera star,  Verna Osborne.  I think the fact she was more a singer than a pianist was a real gift to me.

“Then my mother (bless her) enrolled me in a very posh girls prep school to keep me out of trouble.  I was furious but ended up loving this school. I received scholarship piano lessons from Faith France.  She was a very good piano teacher,and loe and behold, I became the best pianist in the school! (Tho I still could not read music very well.)

“My senior year of High School, the Dean of Studies called me in about college.  I had no clue, no future ambition. I just loved to learn.’Where do you want to go to college?’ she asked. ‘And in what subject do you want to major?’

I must have looked bewildered or blank, because she then said ‘Well, you are a good pianist, why not go to music school.’Then Mary Kogen, musician and taketina instructor says that when she was 7 year old, “I took piano because one of my parents suggested that I do. Later we moved to the Bay Area, and I took from Madame Boris.  She was Russian and very old and had flabby upper arms.But did she love music.  When I would play Fur Elise, she would move around the room calling in a plaintive voice “Elise…EeeeLiiiseeee” It really worked! I quit when I was 11 or so…(I don’t know why…..maybe because my parents divorced….and sometime  later my mom (thank goodness) suggested I take lessons from this weird, wonderful lady  who smoked and wore curlers when she taught me.  I can still see her greeting me at the front door. She called me “sweetheart” and “honey”, and we just fooled around…mostly harmony and ragtime stuff. I loved her dangling cigarette and actually really enjoyed the lessons.  It improved my ear immensely.  As a matter of fact, I could play well by ear but couldn’t sightread but I kept very quiet about that.

Nightclub musician/drummer/vocalist, Dave Royer said, “My home was always full of music. Before I could walk my mom said that I was standing in my crib attempting to sing ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ with correct melody and phrasing but lacking proper enunciation.”

When I was 4 or 5 and put to bed, I lay in my bed listening to my parents and their friends playing music. My mother was a pianist and would frequently get together with fellow musicians for jam sessions in our home.

Lisa Coffey, professional harpist and instructor says.“As early as I remember, music was in the ether at our house.  My mother was a classical singer who attended the Eastman School; my uncle a pianist who studied in Paris, and there was an enthusiastic pleasure taken in music on both sides of our family.  We had a little portable record player that played 78 rpm records (that was the only record speed back then!)  We had a set of Little Golden Records that introduced the instruments of the orchestra, and another that introduced famous excerpts from classical music.

We also had records of operas such as “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” and other children’s records selected by our mother who cared about the quality of what we were listening to.  A favorite activity was to sit on the couch next to our mother as she held a song book on her lap.  We sang together, a capella, as we did not yet have a piano at that early time.  One of the song books was a book of Christmas carols.

The carol “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” had an illustration showing an angel “bending near the Earth to touch [her] harp of gold.”  I loved that picture, and I loved that harp. I thought the harp was simply the most beautiful thing that existed in the world, and I knew I had to have it!  That was the beginning of a relationship with the harp that has been the guiding light of my life ever since.”

Alice Cotton, guitarist and songwriter who teaches her 8 – 11 year old music students how to perform and create music enjoys remembering placing her head under the lid of her families baby grand piano. “I plucked the strings and filled my head and ears with the amazing sounds I heard in there.”me performing 12

“Then there were the singing machines, like the clothes dryer when it was on. I would spend hours, or was it really many minutes,  singing harmony with it, making up tunes.”

“I remember that Beethoven and Bach recordings were always playing around the house.

“Then there was music school at the Cleveland Institute of Music where I learned music theory and piano.  Then I quit that many years later to follow my interest in playing guitar mush to my piano teacher unhappiness. She was hoping I would be one her star pianists. But alas, I was meant for playing the strings like the ones I used to explore under the piano lid.”

Birdsong and Zoomusicology

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What is zoomusicology? It is the study of the music of animals.  An interesting subject. For instance, listen to the birds singing outside in summer and spring or right now! And you may wonder: Do birds really appreciate music, or do they just treat it like a collection of sounds? Hmmm. There’s been a lot of debate about this over the years. We know that creatures ranging from birds to whales are capable of making haunting, melodious sounds — but whether those count as music has remained controversial.

Neuroscience might hold the answer

Sarah Earp, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, has dual specialties in music and neuroscience and has devised an innovative study that examined not the structure or complexity of the melodious sounds made by other species, but instead what response these noises evoked in the brains of those who heard it.

It’s a particularly intriguing idea because, as zoomusicology expert Jean-Jacques Nattiez (born December 30, 1945 in Amiens, France and a professor of musicology) once argued that music has until now been uniquely human because, “sound is not organized and conceptualized (that is, made to form music) merely by its producer, but by the mind that perceives it.” If we can actually analyze the minds of birds that hear their species’ songs and compare them to their human counterparts, we might well be able to say whether or not the birds are really creating music.

So, Sarah Earp looked at the brains of white-tailed sparrows. Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.24.39 AMShe examined how both male and female sparrows responded to the males’ songs, both while in and out of the breeding state. The response of both males and females to male birdsong resembled how the  human amygdala reacts in response to music — although for males the response resembled when humans hear unpleasant music, while females reacted as Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.24.52 AMour amygdalas would when we hear something beautiful and melodious.

Earp explains her findings: “We found that the same neural reward system is activated in female birds in the breeding state that are listening to male birdsong, and in people listening to music that they like. Scientists since the time of Darwin have wondered whether birdsong and music may serve similar purposes, or have the same evolutionary precursors. But most attempts to compare the two have focused on the qualities of the sound themselves, such as melody and rhythm.

“The neural response to birdsong appears to depend on social context, which can be the case with humans as well. “Both birdsong and music elicit responses not only in brain regions associated directly with reward, but also in interconnected regions that are thought to regulate emotion. That suggests that they both may activate evolutionarily ancient mechanisms that are necessary for reproduction and survival.”

Admittedly, there is one issue with the study — a big part of the human response to music occurs in regions of the brain that birds don’t really share, meaning it’s hard to say definitively whether birds really do respond to their sounds exactly like humans do, which of course is crucial to determining if they are really making music. Earp suggests a followup study with baleen whales — themselves famous for their otherworldly songs — could do the trick… but first we’ll have to come up with some way to perform neural images on whales, which are just slightly harder to study than white-tailed sparrows.

Wait, There is more……

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Introducing the pied butcherbirds, virtuosos of the bird world.

These  Australian songbirds structure their songs like improvisational jazz riffs, according to a new study.

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.25.12 AMHollis Taylor, a musician who listened to the Pied Butcherbird sing and whose trained ear as a violinist and composer stood in a desert in Western Australia  listening to them sing and said, “I heard a startlingly arresting birdsong—no, a trio!” Taylor says. “I was in the middle of three Pied Butcherbirds, each singing a different part in a rich, clear voice.”

That experience more than a decade ago proved to be life-changing for Taylor, who has been studying and recording the species, a virtuoso among songbirds, ever since. Pied Butcherbird songs sound like minimalist jazz riffs, she says, in “the adding and subtracting of notes in these magnificent, flute-like songs that slowly unfold and transform.”

Taylor isn’t alone in her adulation. As long as people have recognized melodies, we’ve been enthralled and inspired by the beauty of birdsong. Whether birdsong qualifies as music with aesthetic value, rather than serving only functionally as communication between birds, is hotly debated. Still, Taylor thought the unique complexity of Pied Butcherbird songs was worth a closer look.

So, at Sydney’s Macquarie University, Hollis teamed up with experts from around the world to investigate whether Pied Butcherbird songs might have more in common with music than anyone realized. Taylor collected recordings of 17 birds in the wild and sent the tracks to pianist, Eathan Janney, zoomusicologist who was finishing biology graduate work at the City University of New York, for analysis. When he applied a neurological algorithm that visualizes birdsong like brain activity, he found that Pied Butcherbirds mix repetition and novelty in a very musical way.

Each butcherbird in the study performed a repertoire of musical phrases, and the most skilled crooners sometimes knew more than 30 such pieces. The researchers found that individual birds often included the same themes—what musicians call “motifs”—within those phrases. The motif forms the backbone of the phrase, while variations in pitch and rhythm make each one unique.

Musicians, particularly jazz and blues artists, also use motifs to keep their listeners engaged by returning repeatedly to a familiar melody, even as they modify it slightly through improvisation. Janney thinks the study, which was published last month in Royal Society Open Science, provides compelling evidence of the commonalities of music and birdsong. However, he does admit that it would take more extensive research on the Pied Butcherbird and other species’ songs to really prove that point.

“There is an open argument about bird song: is it like how we experience music or is it something completely different?” Janney says. “This balance [between repetition and novelty] is giving us a clue that these birds may experience their songs like music.”

Additionally, the most skilled birds that knew more songs used motifs more regularly, and even seemed to keep time to a musical rhythm. Taylor speculates that the repeated motifs might prevent the complex songs from confusing their avian audience. “The birds are keeping interest going by having these different phrase types,” she says.

The question of whether birdsong can be called music is one that the study authors continue to ponder, with Taylor publishing a book on the subject next year. She’s currently in the Australian Outback recording the springtime nocturnal songs of Pied Butcherbirds—which for her is part work and part pleasure.

“Since each bird sings differently, and he songs can change annually, each night is always a thrill,” she says. “The musician in me recognizes the musician in them.”a

~ The above is a collection of several zoo musicology articles.

Argument for the Arts

An Argument for the Arts 

A great deal of distress is apparent concerning the future of music and the arts in America. Support for the arts has eroded to a dangerous extent and false images have replaced knowledge as to the true place and importance of the arts in the scheme of society. Most young people do not even know what constitutes the arts.

“Imagination is more important than intelligence.” Albert Einstein

When Einstein said this he was referring to the nature of human evolution and his experience of ‘complete intelligence’. By complete intelligence, we refer to the cooperation of the sensory, emotive, imaginative, intellectual and intuitive functions of the human mind. This harmony of human functioning has led to humanity’s greatest achievements, in which the arts have always had a major role, because it is in the arts that the demonstration and development of ‘complete intelligence’ occurs most directly.

“Great Art can communicate before it is understood.” T.S. Eliot

Many major scientific discoveries were preceded by movements in the arts. Artists demonstrate ‘complete human intelligence’ and create symbolic languages which convey new ideas, concepts and experiences of reality before words for them have been developed. For example, Giotto di Bondone (1276-1337) was the first artist of record to understand the benefits of painting a scene as if it were viewed from a stationary point of view, organized about a horizontal and vertical axis. As a result, the ‘flat picture writing’ that had been the style for over a thousand years acquired depth. Within a generation this advance in perspective had spread to almost all artists. In this way, Giotto extended Euclid’s conception of space into art and altered Plato’s perfect forms in the service of art, making a great contribution to the science of visual perception.

A hundred years before Newton and Galileo, Piero della Francesca introduced shadow into his art and experimented with the nature of light. Francesco Grimaldi proposed that light moved like waves, instead of being streams of particles as was earlier believed, thirteen years before Huygens. Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky demonstrated the relativity of pitch and time in their work before Einstein’s theory hit home, and the first to suggest in philosophical circles that space and time were one was Edgar Allan Poe in 1846. The contributions of Da Vinci need not be elaborated uopn.

The examples are many. In addition to these and many other scientific discoveries, the arts benefit society in the field of education in terms of the development of the mental processes of children (it is proven, for example, that playing a musical instrument stimulates many cognitive functions of the brain), the team spirit of performing in a musical ensemble, goal setting techniques, the ability to visualize a positive future and the discipline to bring your intentions to fruition over a long period of time. The arts bring communities together and inspire personal achievement because it is primarily through the imagination that individual and societal evolution occurs.

“Art degraded, imagination denied.” William Blake

The stagnant, regressive cultural state of our country is directly related to the estrangement most people feel with the arts and artists. The environment for a positive future must be created for our youth by supporting the art of our country as much as possible. Symphonic institutions experiencing difficulty, for example, should not resort to becoming museums of past music, but should create the audiences of the future by performing the music of our time.

It is time for our country’s institutions to recognize the vitally important place that the arts have in the forward ‘progress’ of civilization. Otherwise, the continued reliance on intellect divorced from the imaginative, intuitive, emotive, sensory and spiritual functions, which are all vital parts of our heritage as human beings and all of which were needed for us to survive the ages, will continue to ‘degrade’ our visions for the future, our environment, our everyday lives and our spiritual, inner selves.

The Arts should be supported first, not last, by America’s institutions. 

author: unknown

Latest Review of The Case of the Flying Note

5 star review by

Welcome to Sound City, a musical place. Our story revolves around Detective Reed. He is called in about a note that went missing during the composition of a new song. We follow along with Detective Reed as he cases down the note through all kinds of compositions. But will he be able to catch it to help finish the song?

This is a delightful story about music. It is well written and explains everything that is brought to your attention relating to music. I loved following Detective Reed as he had the adventures around Sound City. But I loved the reason why Presto flew away in the first place.

Besides a lovely story, you also have gorgeous illustrations that make the story even more interesting. This is a wonderful music based book that would be great for any kid or adult interested in music. This is the first in a series of stories and I cannot wait to see what happens to Detective Reed Next.