Not everyone graduates from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and decides to dedicate their career to children’s music.
Tina Harris, however, has made a name for herself as one of Australia’s most-loved children’s musical performers, Lah-Lah.
Lah-Lah’s Adventures has been featured on ABC Kids, Seven, and CBeebies, with the television show complemented by the band’s popular YouTube channel.
The Lah-Lah Big Live Band will bring the Santa’s Got a Brand New Groove tour to Castle Hill RSL on Saturday, December 18.
Performing for children has become Ms Harris’ central focus, encouraging children to learn about and participate in making music.
“That moment when you walk on stage and you hear these little squeals of delight...it’s just magic,” she said.
She said that the transition from working with Opera Australia to singing for kids was almost accidental after she had two daughters with husband Mark.
“When our two daughters Emily and Lily were born, I was still working on and off with the opera company and ironically I didn’t want to get back into touring,” she said.
A friend suggested early childhood music teaching as a possible career change that would fit in with Ms Harris’ focus on parenting.
“So we started off with one class, then the class turned into a school, and then the school turned into four schools and it really snowballed,” Ms Harris said.
At the end of each term her husband Mark would visit the classes with his double bass and they would put on a performance for the families.
Soon Lah-Lah’s Adventures was in the recording studio, and after nine years the band is becoming increasingly popular with children and parents alike.
“We’re really passionate about introducing kids to music and musical instruments,” Ms Harris said.
“I think the difference at our concert is that after each show we always do a meet-and-greet. The kids get to touch and play with each instrument that they’ve just seen performed on stage.
“For us, that tactile contact with a musical instrument – that’s what really creates an emotional memory for a child.”
That passion has seen her join World Vision Australia on a tour taking early childhood music into the Northern Territory, where she wasn’t sure how Lah-Lah’s bright costumes and music would be received.
“Kids respond universally to music, I was amazed,” she said.
“Before that World Vision trip I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond, and they just loved it!”