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Friday, August 5, 2016

Interview of Joey Curtin, Musical Artist by Trisha Roberts

I would like to introduce you to Joey Curtin, Musician, Composer, and Performer.  Her new album, Hey Diddle Diddle, is a wonderful compilation of songs for young children. Here is the Interview of Joey......

Joey Curtin Hey Diddle Diddle Musician

Pro Educational Toys:  Tell us about yourself   
Joey:  I am a wife and a mother. My husband and I have two grown children and a son-in-law. Family is my greatest treasure.

Boy on the PianoWhen I was 5 years old, my parents bought a piano and I
immediately started giving “concerts” for my dogs, dolls, and teddy bears. I had not yet started  lessons, so the pure joy of exploring the sounds was the beginning of my profession today. Later, I took piano lessons from  a  teacher who taught me to read music and also cultivated my love to play by ear. In grade school and high school, I played the French horn, trumpet, and guitar. . .Then came my love for synthesizers and Rock ‘n Roll!  I studied Music arrangement and composition in college where I had the most wonderful professor. Dr. Jonah Kliewer was always composing new songs for our choir and orchestra, and he was always laughing! I am so thankful for this mentor in my life.
As I grew older, I found that music was the best way for me to express  emotions when I couldn’t verbalize my feelings. This was a way I could pray to God when I felt overwhelmed. This became my banner: “I pray while I play”.
After college, I got my first real “gigs” playing piano in the San Francisco Bay area. I played in restaurants, hotels, art galleries, ski lodges, and National Parks. This was an intense training period learning to play popular music on demand. It gave me 'thick skin' and also increased my desire to keep writing the songs that were in my heart.
Today I compose and record instrumental songs that are heard on Public Radio, PBS documentaries, visitor centers, commercials, and many other places.  My music is on Pandora, Spotify, Apple and other streaming radio services. I write for violin, guitars, and other instruments along with my piano and keyboard arrangements. I also teach private piano lessons.
Pro Educational Toys:  What was the inspiration behind your album, Hey Diddle Diddle?
Joey:  After graduating from college, I worked for one semester at a high school as a teacher’s assistant for students with learning challenges. This was the beginning of an ongoing desire to help kids who struggle with learning and comprehension.
Musical Instruments and Kids

In 2007, I  was asked to create a Kindergarten music curriculum for a private school in northern California. Over the years,  I had stumbled upon many children struggling with learning challenges, ADD, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, and other undiagnosed difficulties. I was fascinated by these kids and began teaching them piano. Their brilliant minds and unique personalities inspired me  to create silly songs on the spur of the moment.  We would beat drums, sing and dance in addition to piano.
Music, Movement and Rhyme became the theme for the Kindergarten class. I had no degree in Early Childhood Education or in Music Therapy, so I tried to educate myself by reading and research. I was having so much fun! During this time, I was recording music for videos and commercials. I asked my daughter, Jackie, to sing an old lullaby and I was amazed at how her voice had matured. That was it!
Her voice inspired me to record some of my own songs along with new arrangements of old favorites.  Jackie agreed to sing the songs on Hey Diddle Diddle.  As the project developed, my goal was to create a calming effect to help kids settle down.  I wanted them to feel safe and loved as they closed their eyes and I wanted the music to be enjoyable to parents.
Pro Educational Toys:  What makes you laugh?
Joey:  My husband, Patrick, with his  Irish sense of humor and quick  wit.  
Pro Educational Toys:  What makes you cry?
Joey:  Seeing people  in pain, suffering, and struggling either physically or emotionally.
Pro Educational Toys:  What is your passion?
Joey:  Connecting with people through music is my passion.
I enjoy many styles of music and I love the sounds of acoustic and electric instruments. I love to give  concerts  and be able to  share the stories behind the songs. My goal is to  bring  healing, joy, comfort, new  understanding , or just simple pleasure to my audience.  Music is a powerful tool to  change the atmosphere of a room and touch someone’s heart.
Pro Educational Toys:  What would you like etched on your tombstone?
Joey:  “Death is swallowed up in victory!” - I Corinthians 15:54
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Joey:  In 2003, I was hired by a hospital  at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston to play music in 4-hour shifts every weekend. The head of research would sit and listen every week. He told me, “There is healing in your beautiful music ”. The best non-verbal compliment was at the same hospital.   A troubled young man from the psychiatric facility would often come and sit in a chair next to the piano, close his eyes and a calm would come over him.
Pro Educational Toys:  What inspires you on a daily basis?
Joey:  God has gifted me to be who I am with my talents as well as my quirks! I want people to feel loved by the way I interact with them. I’m also greatly inspired by the beauty of nature.
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the one accomplishment of which you are most proud?
Joey:  My album Soundtrack For America.
It’s not a political statement. It is a love song for America and all the people who have found refuge here, as well as the Native Americans who first lived here.

Joey Curtin--Soundtrack for America
Soundtrack for America

 My husband and I hired a small army of wonderful musicians to play on it. Our friend, Marc Cooper, performed and helped produce the album. I was honored to have this album placed in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in Austin, TX.

Pro Educational Toys:  What unique talents do you think you have?
  1. Creating music when words fall short
  2. Empathy for people in their pain
  3. Relating to kids and being silly
Pro Educational Toys:  What matters to you?
  1. Families and cultures stuck in cycles of poverty
  2. Kids that struggle in the education process
  3. Taking care of nature and preserving our resources
Pro Educational Toys:  If you had one word or phrase to describe yourself, what would it be?
Joey:  “I keep pressing  on to the higher calling of my Lord.” - Bob Dylan
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the best decision you have ever made?
Joey:  To marry my husband, Patrick!
We met in Lake Tahoe, CA in a rock band. We played music on the beach, in the mountains, at church, weddings, parties, youth detention centers, and San Quentin State Prison. We’ve travelled to Europe, Asia and Ethiopia playing music and volunteering our help for many different types of compassion ministries.  One of our greatest experiences was to be part of  peace and reconciliation meetings between Catholics and Protestants  in Northern Ireland.  Hatred and murder had been a way of life for decades.  It was very humbling to be invited into this situation to help healing begin.

You can visit Joey's website here and learn more about her and her wonderful gift of music.

Music accesses many different parts of our brain and can affect our emotions, creativity, can improve motor and reasoning skills, and can actually promote better health! Fill your child's life with music wherever you can!  Here are some great suggestions for musical toys for young children.

Author:  Trisha Roberts

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