Books! I’ve read ’em. I’ve even written a few.
St. Louis Dad: A Manual for New and Expecting Dads was released by Reedy Press. Part humor, part practical advice, it helps guys learn why a baby’s crawling is cute until he actually does it, why having your two-year-old mow the lawn is a bad idea, and why opinions are like Cardinals caps—every four-year-old has one. It describes what makes local restaurants especially baby friendly, and where to find them, along with advice on traveling with small children, potty training tips, and more. There are also “Fun Facts” like: “Babies reach roughly the weight of a bowling ball at their first birthday. Despite this, they are rarely used in tournament play.” Most important, it encourages the new dad to get as involved in possible with the first five years of his newborn’s life.
The Musician’s Ultimate Joke Book has recently gone into its third printing. Illustrated by Michael Bruza, it’s the most complete collection of humor about, from, and for musicians. It’s for every band director, music teacher, classical musician, jazz performer, cover band leader, accordion player, and person who knows an accordion player but doesn’t like to admit it. This is the best resource for program notes, concert spiels, killing time when the bass player is tuning up, or just for fun! The comprehensive index is handy for anyone wanting to introduce a particular composer or song in a performance setting. Proceeds from the book go to the nonprofit organization Little Kids Rock. (Read what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says about Kevin and the book.)
Songwriter’s Rhyming Dictionary has been a best-selling book for Alfred Publishing, and it’s now in three versions: handy guide, pocket dictionary, and Hip Hop Rhyming Dictionary. Acclaimed by The New York Times as “part muse, part quick reference,” this pocket-sized dictionary is an easy-to-use tool geared specifically toward the contemporary songwriter. A concise collection of the most-often used words in popular music, the simple format allows for fast reference, while the 15,000 entries provide many rhyming options.
Rock Singing Techniques, cowritten with Karen Farnum Surmani, covers what every rock singer needs to know. Exercises and songs are included to help you strengthen your voice and extend your range. Live and studio singing is explained, including information on the equipment you’ll need to sing with a band. The CD includes accompaniments for songs and exercises.
Time Traveler’s Guide to Music History, books one and two, is a supplement series for the young piano student. Music history has never been so much fun, and the books are filled with great songs and lively illustrations. With a general MIDI keyboard, students can play the pieces with a historically accurate instrument sound. Experience the evolution of music firsthand! (Cowritten with good friend Susy Christiansen of Busy Bee.)
Music education is a passion and I am proud my boys grew up playing in the Suzuki violin method. But when I looked around and saw there were no instructional jazz songs for beginners, I teamed up with their longtime violin teacher Joanne Keefe and put together this one. It includes standards such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” jazz classics such as Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father,” and “Orange Colored Sky,” which Nat King Cole made famous. There is at least one piece for each 1-5 level, including two duets … and yes of course there’s a jazzy Christmas medley!
Other titles include How to Put a Band Together, Making a Great Demo, and Wickiups, a children’s book about Native American homes.