Hilltown Families


Under the Hat: Songwriting with the Seasons

Under the Hat: Independent Music Education with 2015 Latin Grammy Award winner, two time Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, western MA-based Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer).

“Under the Hat: Independent Music Education” with 2015 Latin Grammy Award winner, two time Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, Mister G.

The seasons can inspire us to learn in so many ways! They can even encourage learning about the art of writing songs! This month in “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education,” Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Mister G, shares ideas that incorporate the seasons, curiosity, rhyming, and even a sense of humor for kids learning how to write songs

Ben Gundersheimer (a.k.a. Mister G) has always found it fascinating to dissect how songs are constructed. This month in “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education,” get a dose of music ed as he walks you through the listening steps to get you to think about the way different instruments come in and out of a musical mix.

This month in “Under the Hat,” Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Ben Gundersheimer (aka Mister G) spotlights the universal language of music. He shares a recent conversation he and a Brazilian musician he is currently collaborating had, noting how dogs all over the world understand each other, instantly! This universal language can be found in music too, crossing cultures and facilitating communication without barriers. Knowing how to play music can cultivate a sense of cultural appreciation and connection, building a bridge of cooperation and joy between people without the need for spoken language.

Traditional holiday carols have been worked over by so many different musicians and singers! This month in “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education” with Mister G, Ben has a look at the renditions of holiday classics, especially the magic of ‘Feliz Navidad,’ made globally accessible by the mastery of bilingual songster José Feliciano. Ben’s insights are always a treat into the creative process that results in terrific music by great musicians across the spectrum.

In this episode of “Under the Hat,” Mister G talks about how as a kid he used to read under the covers by flashlight long after bedtime. After touring around the world (and noticing that kids are looking at screens instead of books), he decided to write a collection of songs that reconnect children with their love of learning and creating. The album is The Bossy E and this video is of the first song on the record, “Love to Read.” Featuring Grammy winner Charles Neville on flute.

Beautiful music is an aural delight. But every now and again you have a special situation where music and place just bind themselves together to create a truly memorable experience. The musical genius of composer Franz Schubert finds subtle and innovative acoustics at the Rotherwas Room at the Mead Museum in Amherst, through a remarkably creative sound installation. The room is the perfect historical ornate setting for masterful classical music that is wonderfully deconstructed through a system of five speakers that each represents a single instrument in a quintet! This is a very rare opportunity for people of all ages to appreciate the timeless genius of classical music and to feel it in a greater historical context. Read on to learn more about the exhibit and what supporting events are happening around it.

A healthy consumption of reading materials can be tantalizing for the imagination. As you sit still, you have to free your mind to interact with a stimulating narrative and go to other places. Not only do you consume information and read a story but it can inspire you to create something of your own. It’s a fantastic position to put a child in. Mister G’s new album celebrates the joys of reading and creating, and setting a child’s imagination free. Read on for the introduction to the album “The Bossy E,” and check out the video this month in “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education.”

In this month’s “Under the Hat,” Mister G and his mom, children’s book author/illustrator Karen Gundersheimer, reminisce about the role books and stories played in their household when he was growing up.

“Wherever we are, there are song ideas just lurking around the corner. The trick is to have your antennae up and let your curiosity lead the way,” writes Mister G. “If something strikes you as interesting, chances are that other people will be interested too.” — This month in “Under the Hat,” Grammy-nominated musician, Mister G, shares how being curious can help to create a new song…

This month in “Under the Hat,” Mister G shares his journey from writing English songs for adults to writing and performing Spanish songs in Central & South America for kids…

Mister G has a new vlog this month in “Under the Hat,” bringing you into his studio to show how mixing music is a lot like mixing a cake. Gather the kids around to learn more in this short video…

Under the Hat: Rhymes Have you ever wondered why the words to some songs get stuck in your head? In this episode of Under the Hat, Mister G reveals one of his big secrets; songwriters love to use rhymes. Using examples from his songs “Pizza for Breakfast” and “Colores,” Mister G explains how good rhymes fit together like puzzle pieces to create catchy, memorable rhythms. We learn how songwriters search for the… Read More

Under the Hat: Tempo The instant we hear music our bodies start responding to the sounds. Why is it that some music makes us want to dance and other music makes us want to take a nap? Using examples from his songs “Grilled Cheese” and “Sueños,” Mister G illustrates the role tempo plays in creating mood in music. It’s really not that complicated: fast tempos tend to make the listener want to… Read More

Following the Butterflies through Words and Rhythm While on tour in Mexico, Mister G talks about how his bilingual song, “Señorita Mariposa” was inspired by the famous migration of the Monarch Butterfly to the state of Michoacan. He emphasizes how close observation of nature can become the jumping off point for new songs. Before performing “Señorita Mariposa,” Mister G demonstrates the traditional Afro-Cuban rhythm known as clave. Mister G’s song “Senorita Mariposa”… Read More

Under the Hat: Songwriting Detectives Reporting while on tour from Mexico City, Mister G talks about how songwriters are like detectives who are always on the lookout for clues as to what would make and interesting song. This month’s episode of Under the Hat includes footage from a variety of school concerts from Mexico as Mister G shares a story about how he came to write “Chocolalala,” the title track off of his… Read More

Under the Hat: All About Guitars In this debut episode of “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education,” Mister G takes us into his recording studio in Western MA for a music lesson about the guitar. Using a variety of instruments from his collection, he discusses the differences (and similarities) between acoustic, electric, classical and steel guitars. — Grab the kids for a fun tutorial on four guitars as Mister G demonstrates their… Read More

Classical Music Comes Alive Hilltown Family Variety Show this Weekend Bonnie Ward Simon and Stephen Simon, the husband-and-wife team behind Maestro Classics, winner of over 50 prestigious awards for its Stories In Music CD series, will serve as guest program hosts for a special “Stories in Music with the Creators of Maestro Classics” radio broadcast of Hilltown Family Variety Show on Northampton radio station 103.3FM WXOJ-LP (Valley Free Radio) on Saturday, March… Read More

Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner Ted Jacobs Brings the Celtic World Alive on the Hilltown Family Variety Show this Weekend Award-winning, Los Angeles-based musician/composer Ted Jacobs is dedicated to presenting exquisite acoustic musical settings of the world’s most beloved poetry.  Ted will bring his love for all things Celtic to Hilltown Family Variety Show as the program’s “Guest DJ”  on Saturday, November 19 at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday, November 20 at 7:00… Read More