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From The Classroom To The Stage

Your Weekender, April 22, 2005
by Jeff Stiles

Though he has no children of his own, David Landau's life revolves around kids. The former teacher and current musician with the Madison- based Cork 'n' Bottle String Band earns his living performing songs for youngsters.

David says he got the idea of performing children's music from the music assemblies he attended with his first-grade students in Verona, and that this career path allows him to utilize his teaching skills and musical talent at the same time.

"I always enjoyed the performers who would perform during assemblies at the school where I was working," David recalls. "I realized the kids liked the music so much and it seemed the performers had a really good job, so I talked to a few of them to find out what it takes and how they did it. I took a year off teaching with the idea to play songs in school assemblies, and I never went back."

Of course, once a teacher always a teacher, and David always takes advantage of his time with kids to practice his first love. "When I do my shows I always like to have a few real important teaching points," he says. "I think the classroom teachers are giving up their time to go to these assembliesand that's Valuable time these daysso I try to do a little teaching instead of strictly entertainment."

David's second children's recording, Kids and Kitties, features a dozen songs that last just under 19 minutes total. Kids listening to the CD are sure to be entertained by tunes such as "Five Little Monkeys," "lcky Sticky Bubble Gum" and "Why is My Kitty So Silly," while adults would enjoy listening to the music of the Cork 'n' Bottle String Band when they perform on the CD's version of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."

The CD is available for purchase in several Madison and Verona music stores, and samples can be heard online at

"The whole CD has a bluegrass rhythm, with a lot of toe-tapping songs and a banjo and fiddle and mandolin and a big standup bass," explains David, who says children can also be heard singing on the CD. "I've found when talking to parents that young children who listen to it really perk up when they hear other children's voices on the CD. For whatever reason, when kids hear other kids that's really special for them."

David jokingly compares himself to famed children's music artist Ralffi, who since 1976 has recorded 13 albums and three concert videos that have sold over 12 million units. "I think he kind of looks like me," he says with a chuckle. "He plays for kids too, although he's in the upper echelon of kids' performers."

This weekend our local Raffi will be returning to his Shullsburg roots (his mother and father still live in the town) to perform a free 45-minute concert for children at the Brewster Cafe.

"The Brewster Cafe is one of those old historic downtown restaurants, with stone walls from the 1800s and big timbers," David says. "There will if people want to order off the menu, and if they want drinks they can order those too. The place is real cozy and quaint and it's going to be a great place to hear some music."

Although everyone is welcome to attend the Saturday-afternoon show, David says it will be much more fun for those who bring little kids along with them. It's always a lot of fun for everybody, though it definitely is going to be geared for kids 2-12 and their families," he says. "It will be a good atmosphere and a lot of good people and we'll all have a good time. "I'll have CDs for sale too, if people want to buy them, but I just want people to have a good time in downtown Shullsburg."

Copyright © 2002- David Landau
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