Seagulls by Ty Curtis

May 4th, 2010


flock of seagulls at the beach

Seagulls at the beach

Floating through the salty wind, gliding with such ease, just above the sand dunes and the foamy rolling sea, we can hear the big waves crash as they reach the shore, churning up that sandy beach where there’s so much to explore. And we’re flying like the seagulls through the air. Feel the golden sunshine bouncing off our hair. Me and my friend Chase; well we haven’t got a care. We’re flying like a seagull in the air.

These are a few of the words that make up our personalized kid’s song called “Seagull.” The inspiration for this song didn’t come from one single event as did some of our other songs. This song came from several experiences over the years while living near the water. I have had many encounters with seagulls. Some of them were really quite funny.

I remember one sunny morning when I was a child, I was walking along an empty stretch of beach at Debordieu Beach, just beyond the south inlet of Pawley’s Island. It was the latter part of spring. Suddenly I became the target of a swarm of angry seagulls. They were diving down on me from all directions, just missing me with each swoop. I later found out that I had wandered into their nesting grounds. I didn’t know at the time that they lay their eggs on the warm sand. It didn’t take long for me to find my way away from them.

Another seagull encounter happened when some friends and I were taking a boat ride across the Charleston harbor. The sun had just started to drop down near the horizon. As we cruised over the peaceful swells of the harbor, an old shrimp boat was coming in from the sea with their catch in the hold. As we passed the large vessel we could see the deckhands cleaning up and tossing things back into the water. That old boat was surrounded by a swarm of clamoring seagulls. Some were flying in circles around the shrimpers as others dove into the water to gobble up what was being returned to the sea. It was a very peaceful and defining sight; one that you might see on a Charleston postcard. Little did I know at the time, but this scene would find its way onto my album of personalized music for kids called Sea Animal Adventures.

This acoustic song was written with peaceful images of free-flying seagulls at sunset. We intentionally placed the song near the conclusion of the album. We did this because many children who listen to this CD use it for bedtime music. We placed all of the relaxing songs near the end of the CD so that it would have a lullaby-like quality.

You can listen to “Seagulls” today. Just click the the audio clip when you visit our music samples page. While you are there listen to some of the other music samples from our kid’s personalized music CD. We think you will enjoy what you hear!

“‘Seahorse’ A Rocking, Musical Fantasy Under The Sea” By Ty Curtis

April 17th, 2010

Ty Curtis

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the animals of the sea? Well saddle up that seahorse because we’re going on a Sea Animal Adventure. Sound like fun? Well there’s more. We could gallop along the ocean plains as we explore the deep blue sea. We could swim through sunken pirate ships, and then jump the coral reefs. We’ll hear the cool blue waves overhead as they rush to the shore. And down here on the ocean range we’ve got our friends; who could ask for more. Yippee ki-yay! With my seahorse, I’ll gallop the plains of the sea. And all my good friends can gallop with me.

How’s that for imaginary fun? Well that is gist of our personalized child’s song called “Seahorse.” It is the first song of our album of personalized children’s music called Sea Animal Adventures. “Seahorse” is an exciting song. This musical production was recorded with a full band of impressive musicians. The Hammond B3 organ rakes many times during the song to suggest the breaking waves of the sea. The melody of this song has the feel of a classic rock song with a softer edge for children. While I was writing this song, I found myself including typical words that are associated with horses and cowboys. I used words like saddle, gallop, and jump. What I found to be really cool was that many features of the ocean floor had names that would work superbly within the song. The ocean has plains and ranges. It has rifts and ridges. Those are all words that could be used to describe the geographic details of the western United States. The imagery was wonderful for this song. I included a few more descriptive details like kicking sand up off the bottom, and leaving hoof prints on the turf. Once the song was completed, all that was left to be added was the imagination of a child. Then we had just the right ingredients for an exciting, musical fantasy.

“Seahorse” was the ideal kickoff song for our personalized children’s music CD. Children naturally love fantasy stories. In this song we have taken fantasy and combined it with the names of children which are included throughout the song. The outcome was incredible.

The daddy / daughter vocal duo of Ty and Emily Curtis worked well for this song, as well as for the other melodies on the Sea Animal Adventures CD. Emily’s youthful voice provided a rich tapestry of background vocals throughout the song, while dad laid down the main vocal track. Sometimes you can feel it in the studio when the music is turning out well. This was definitely one of those times.

You can hear “Seahorse” for yourself when you visit us at ChildsPlayMusic. We think you’ll agree that it is a great inexpensive gift for the children in your life. Come see us today!

“You and Me and a Manatee” by Ty Curtis

April 10th, 2010

Ty Curtis

It was long days of summer at Garden City Beach, South Carolina. Sixteen-year-old Emily Curtis had gone on vacation there with her friend, Avery Ivey. One morning while she was there, Emily walked down to the small dock behind the house. As she sat there taking in the peaceful sights and sounds of the marsh, something very unexpected happened. An animal about the size of a couch came to the top of the water about five feet away from her. The brownish-gray animal blew out, took a deep breath in, and then disappeared almost as quickly as it came. Startled, Emily scurried 20 yards before she began to realize what had just happened. She had encountered a curious, friendly manatee. She was so thrilled about what had happened that she called to tell me about it.

What Emily had just witnessed that day was a pretty uncommon occurrence. Although manatees inhabit South Carolina, they usually are more often seen in the southern coastal parts of the state. Manatees typically inhabit warm, shallow, coastal rivers and creeks. They can live in fresh or salt water. They are herbivores, and they eat many different types of plants and algae. A mature manatee will regularly eat up to 150 lbs of plants each day. The rivers in the northern part of South Carolina can get chilly in the winter, slowing the growth of food for the Manatees. That’s the reason you will find more manatees inhabiting the warmer rivers of Florida.

Because of the Manatees’ docile, friendly nature, many people are fascinated with these large aquatic mammals. Many tourists head down to Florida annually just so that they can get up close to the manatees. Some adventurous folks actually go swimming or snorkeling with them.

It is worth mentioning that because manatees are slow swimmers, they are often hit by speed boats. In fact, boating collisions account for a fourth of all manatee deaths. Many manatees have been identified by the location of propeller scars that remain on their bodies after colliding with speed boats. While federal laws have been created protect manatees, they remain classified as “endangered” at the federal level.

Emily’s brief, unexpected visit with the manatee was the inspiration for our new personalized song for children called “You and Me and a Manatee.” This moderately happy, folk song tends to depict the heart and soul of taking a swim with these gentle animals. It was just the right addition to our album of personalized music for children called Sea Animal Adventures. We were very happy with the way this song turned out, and it is perhaps the most memorable song on the CD.

We would love for you to listen to “You and Me and a Manatee.” Simply visit us at ChildsPlayMusic and listen to our personalized children’s music CD. We look forward to seeing you there!

Copyright 2010, Ty Curtis

“‘Danny The Dancing Dolphin’ – The Playful, Thriller Of The Seas” by Ty Curtis

April 2nd, 2010

Ty Curtis

The dolphin is the perhaps the most amusing animal in the sea. In their ocean environment they are just as intelligent as they are spectacular to watch. They sometimes leap into the air above the water’s surface, performing acrobatic feats. Using their special sense of echo location, they can zip through dark water with great speed, fully aware of their surroundings.

Dolphins are very playful animals. They play with other dolphins acting as if they are fighting; sort of like two kids rough-housing. Sometimes they seem to enjoy harassing other sea animals. They have been known to nose sea turtles along as they easily out swim this sea neighbor. They also will occasionally bug seagulls for no apparent reason other than for amusement. At times, they have been known to playfully interact with people who are swimming. Dolphins can be found in all of the oceans, and are regulars to beaches where people enjoy boating and swimming. Because they are found in so many places, they are easily identified by people from every culture.

Dolphins are envied by water sports enthusiasts. They effortlessly surf waves at sea, and at times those waves are enormous. They often swim in the bow waves created by large boats, leaping out of the waves’ crest for no other reason than having fun. They are indeed amazing creatures. That is why they have starred in countless television series and movies. Some such as “Flipper” are a common household name.

When Ty Curtis composed the song “Danny the Dancing Dolphin,” one of the songs from his personalized children’s CD, Sea Animal Adventures, he knew it would call up exciting images of the life of a dolphin. As he did in his other songs about sea animals, Curtis brought human qualities to this good-natured sea creature, and portrayed it as a friend. There is also a very well-thought up rhyme scheme in the lyrics. In this song, Danny is a dancing spectacle: Well he’s grinning’ ear to ear, swimmin’ circles near the pier; he does the cha cha on the waves. And when he takes a notion, he races to the ocean, and that’s where he’s really the rave. All the little dolphins start to squeaking and a squawking when Danny starts to flapping his tail. And all the other creatures say he’s really quite the feature; even Little Baby Bella Blue Whale. By infusing alliteration to this up-tempo song, Curtis made sure that it would stay on the mind of any child who hears it. Curtis likes to use plenty of literary tools when he writes a song. He feels that children need to be exposed to high quality lyrics, and he wants parents to know that when they let their children listen to personalized children’s music from ChildsPlayMusic, they are exposing them to high quality music and lyrics that are child-tested several times before being recorded.

“‘Bella the Baby Blue Whale’ Captures the Heart of a Child” by Ty Curtis

March 19th, 2010

She is the largest creature on the planet. At birth she is 25 feet in length, and she weighs more than 3 tons. This makes her the biggest baby in the history of life. This baby drinks 100 gallons of mother’s milk each day. She gains 200 pounds, and increases in length 1 and a half inches per day. When she is full-grown she will top 90 feet in length, and weigh more than 150 tons. When it comes to size, the blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived. It is also the loudest. It has the ability to make sounds as loud as 188 decibels. That is louder than a jet engine, which can be as loud as 140 decibels. When it exhales, it blasts a spout of water 30 feet into the air!

What better character to captivate a child’s imagination. That is what Ty Curtis was thinking when he composed the song called “Bella the Baby Blue Whale.” This would be the most complex song on the “Sea Animal Adventures” CD, an album of children’s personalized music. This was one of those songs where fantasy meets a hearty dose of personification. In this song, the infant blue whale named Bella has that same basic driving, emotional force that all children have; the desire to play.

Bella is one of the main characters in the song, but the other main character is the child whose name is being sung in this song. The recipient of this personalized CD of children’s songs becomes the captain of a wooden ship with billowed sails, filled by the wind. The captain searches for Bella, and lets the seafaring crew of playmates spend time with the baby blue whale. Bella’s large size serves to emphasize her bigger-than-life love that she has for playing with her friends. When it is time to go back home the captain calls to the crew. As they leave to return home, Bella waves farewell with her giant blue tail.

Because of its slow, dreamy melody, “Bella the Baby Blue Whale” easily doubles as a lullaby. Also, since many children use “Sea Animal Adventures” for an easy-listening bedtime CD, it was not a coincidence that Curtis placed this song near the conclusion of the album. This song was intended to help children “calm down,” while still holding their attention with a musically interesting story.

The musical instruments chosen for this song further contribute to its dreamy attitude. A fretless bass guitar solo was used near the conclusion of this string-laden song to imply Bella’s large size. The instrument almost has a liquid quality to it, which makes it flow beautifully in this song. The soft, accurate vocals of Emily Curtis, Ty’s then 13-year-old daughter, were also incorporated in the song. Her velvety voice, singing rounds of overlapping melodies infuse yet another layer of peaceful intricacies to the musical arrangement.

Together, all of the pieces unite to create a calm, beautiful song. “Bella the Baby Blue Whale” is a melody that moves children beyond the cares of the day, and lets them relax and enjoy a gentle sea animal adventure.

Copyright 2010, Tyson A. Curtis

“The Great Penguin Rally at Antarctica” by Ty Curtis

February 16th, 2010

Well they march out in the snow in black and white tuxedos, and they come together in an icy valley. The weather there is cold; about 45 degrees below. But that’s the way that they like it at the penguin rally. Almost sounds like a party in the snow, doesn’t it? Well it is a get-together of sorts, with lots of slipping and sliding, and cold birds colliding!

These natives of Antarctica have adapted to some of the harshest conditions imaginable. Oddly enough that is where penguins are most suited to survive. It is not that they don’t have any challenges down there. No, they do indeed. They are actually part of the food their chain. But you won’t find any complaining penguins. They seem to like their chances in this environment.

Penguins are equipped to handle the subfreezing temperatures of Antarctica. They have a thick layer of fat below their feathers. This layer serves two main purposes; to insulate their warm bodies against the cold temperatures, and to serve as a food store when locating food becomes difficult. So the next time you see a chubby penguin, don’t laugh. This guy is probably one of the most likely penguins to survive the long winters of the South Pole.

A great deal has been written about the way penguins travel through the snow. Some videos and documentaries refer to their movement as a march. However, if you watch them carefully for any length of time, you will see that most penguins move rather clumsily on the ice. The way they move would best be described as waddling. They walk on the snow at about 1 km per hour. Sometimes they even propel themselves along on their bellies. That’s alright by them. This type of movement saves precious energy. When in danger, Penguins can easily pick up their pace. A penguin in its home environment can easily move faster than a man through the snow.

Where this fine-feathered bird truly excels in movement, is in the water. All of its in-the-snow awkwardness is replaced with graceful flight when it is in the water. While in the water some types of penguins can swim at speeds of up to 12 km per hour. At these speeds they can leap out of the water and glide for about half a second. Most types of penguins will only do this when they are being pursued by a predator from below.

With all of its humorous peculiarities, the penguin was an easy selection when deciding which animal to include on our personalized children’s music CD called Sea Animal Adventures. From their unique, tuxedo-like appearance, to their awkward waddling on the ice, these birds of Antartica have no problem capturing the interest of adults and children alike. One of the personalized children’s songs on the Sea Animal Adventures CD is called “Penguin Rally.” In this personalized child’s song we have shown how much like us the penguins sometimes behave. Or, is it that we sometimes behave like the penguins? After all, who was here first, humans or penguins?

“Today I Worked On Basketball With 24 Fifth Graders” by Ty Curtis

February 11th, 2010

You want to know how to solve the world’s energy crisis? Figure out how to harness the energy coming from a class of 24 fifth grade students, right after they have had lunch. That should be enough energy to power this planet for a decade! Today I was privileged to see that energy in action as I took my students out to work on their basketball skills during P.E. Now, If you were to ask these students to raise their hand if they know how to play basketball, every hand would be raised. To listen to them talk you would think that you were talking with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Before playing the game we started out with a few warm up exercises in brisk February air; you know the traditional ones like jumping jacks, hip rotations, and pushups. After doing the warm-ups came the time to organize the games. We have three basketball goals to work with, so that means after all of the splitting into groups was done, we had three groups of eight students. Teams of four on four would be playing each other. The organizational part can sometimes be pretty interesting because most children have strong preferences for who they want to be teammates with. In the end, everything usually works out fine so that everyone is satisfied with the teams they are on. Once everyone was squared away on a team it was time to play. 

I blew the whistle that would signal everyone to begin playing. Instantly there was a enough horsepower (and willpower) on that court to energize a small city. The games would only last about twenty minutes, but to the students that seemed like a reasonable amount of time to play. While the students played, I moved about on the court to each team to help them fine-tune their skills, clarify rules of the game, and help them get a healthy perspective on sportsmanship in the midst of competing with each other. To see the looks on their faces while they are playing is priceless. They get so excited while they are playing.

When our time had run out, I went over and took up the basketballs. I could have blown the whistle but that would have just been wasted air. It is a lot easier to get children to start playing than to get them to stop playing. Anyhow, everything went well right to the end. It was a good day of fun and exercise for the students. When the class was over the students headed back to their classrooms to learn more about the 3 R’s. In P.E. they learned a little more about the game of basketball, and we all learned a lot more about each other.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau

“Writing; An Important Part Of Who I Am” by Ty Curtis

February 10th, 2010

I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing my thoughts come together and fill up a page. There is something about composing that is both challenging and rewarding, and I like both of those things. One of the neat things about composing is that it transcends time. How cool is that! I can write a story and leave it behind, and someone can read it a hundred years later; just like those writers before us who have written great tales or documents that have stood a test of time.

Writing can also be good therapy. When I list my life’s challenges down on paper, I get a different perspective of them. Somehow they seem a little more manageable when I can see them all written out on one page.

Writing can be used to reconnect with old friends from the past. I love how social networking has brought about fresh opportunities to make new friends and keep up with old acquaintances. Five years ago (at the time of this writing) that would have been almost impossible. Now, maintaining contact with old friends is easy.

Writing allows me to express myself artistically. I can weave words into personalized children’s songs that may be sung by my grandchildren’s grandchildren. The words will give them a chance to get a look into my creative thoughts, and the music will paint the words with vivid emotions. It’s kind of neat to think that my grandchild could fall asleep listening to lullabies written by their granddad. Perhaps one of my songs will even cause them to smile long after they are adults.

Writing gives me the privilege to inspire others to worship. Nothing gives me more pleasure than writing songs of worship that encourage others to walk more closely with their Creator. What a privilege it is to create songs of praise and gratitude for the blessings that have fallen on us from a loving heavenly Father. I sincerely feel that nothing could have more value than helping a neighbor build their faith and connect with the love of God. Writing helps me accomplish this.

Writing is contagious, and in these times of advanced technology anyone can take part in expressing themselves in writing. And they should. We have writing tools today that our grandparents couldn’t have imagined. Every computer is equipped with a spell checker that will spell difficult words for us. Built-in document checkers help catch grammatical mistakes and even offer solutions when we make miscues. These tools take lot of the boring work out of writing, and leave us with the simple challenge to express what’s on our minds.

Yes, I guess you could say that I am really into writing. It fulfills a lot of the needs in me to be creative. I think it’s a blast, and I really have fun with it. Maybe you can have fun with it too. Try it for yourself.

“Life Lessons Learned from a Fiddler Crab, and a Red Drum” by Ty Curtis

February 9th, 2010

Oh, just to be able to kick back and watch the fiddler crabs in the pluff mud of the South Carolina salt marsh. What a sight! Well, that is exactly what I do sometimes when I am off work. I drive down to Winyah Bay, and walk down my parent’s long wooden dock that leads to a small barrier island. I call this tiny island Little Momma’s Island because that is what my Mom used to be called by her grandchildren.

Down on the tiny island the only sound to be heard is that of the small waves of the bay washing up against the sand. If you take a closer look you can see thousands of small brown crabs called “fiddlers,” moving about the muddy sand, foraging for food. Fiddler crabs are very interesting little creatures. The males have one large claw and one much smaller claw. The female fiddlers have two small claws. The fiddlers don’t really have too much to worry about, that is until the high tide rolls in. It is then that the island becomes covered with water, and the red drums move in. Red drums are also known spot-tail bass, and they love to feast on just about any type of crab that can be found in the bay. The fiddler crabs have one hope against this swift predator; dig a deep mud hole and dive in it. The red drums, however, don’t mind digging to get to their meals. As a matter of fact you can see them sometimes with their tails waving out of the water trying to lunge their bodies vertically down into the mud to get to the fiddlers. If the fiddler has dug his home deeply enough he will live to see another day. Once the tide recedes, and the island is above the water again, all the fiddler crabs return to surface of the pluff mud, and begin going about their ways of finding food in the marsh. It is an ancient cycle that has existed between the red drum and the fiddlers; One that has been around before the days of man.

It was the simplicity of this little creature’s life that led me to write a song called “Mr. Fiddler.” This is one of the songs on my children’s music album called Sea Animal Adventures. This particular song has a Calypso style, similar to what you might hear on a Jimmy Buffet album. The topic lends itself well to personalized children’s music because children are naturally fascinated by sea animals. My daughter, Emily, had a great deal of fun doing the background vocals for this song. It reminded her of the days strolling on the old dock, leading down Little Momma’s Island, to the place where the fiddler crabs play.

“Finding the Inpiration to Write ‘Caretta, Caretta’” by Ty Curtis

February 6th, 2010

It’s really strange how many ups and downs a writer can go through while composing a new song. As I was writing the songs for “Sea Animal Adventures,” an album of personalized music for children, I remember how sometimes the words to the songs flowed freely from my fingers to the keypad of my computer. Other times, however, I felt that bogged-down feeling that composers sometimes get.

I remember one day I felt stuck while trying to come up with the topic for a new song for the children’s CD. I needed a change of scenery and a break from the self-imposed pressure, so I got into my car and drove down to the local Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. It was late June, and the sun warmed the asphalt in front of the store. I remember the warm, South Carolina breeze as it made its way from the Charleston harbor, then across the parking lot to my face. I got a few items from the store and went through the customer checkout. I took my time heading back to the car because it felt like this might be an unproductive day to attempt to write personalized music for children. Nevertheless, it was back to the writers grind for me.

I climbed into my car and started the engine. As I shifted the car into reverse I noticed the car that was parked in front of me. I happened to glance down at the license plate of that vehicle. That’s when it came to me! Inspiration as clear as the midday sun. The license tag on the car was one of our endangered species plates. The image on the plate was that of our state reptile, the loggerhead sea turtle. Now if that wasn’t enough to get me excited, there was another eye-catching sight for my thirsty eyes. On the back of the car was a sticker that said, “Get Inspired!” That was enough for me.

I headed back to my office with a new sense of direction for the next song for the personalized music album. This children’s song that I was about to compose would be about “Caretta, Caretta.” That is the Latin word for the loggerhead sea turtle. I began researching the sea turtle, looking for particular tidbits of information that would lend themselves to a musical flow. I was searching for something that would reveal the fragile nature of this species. Somehow I needed to personify sea turtles in such a way that children could relate to them. I chose a waltz, 3/4 tempo. There was something about that time signature that reminded me of the constant sway of the ocean. The song began with Caretta’s birth under a moonlit palm, and mentioned her struggles to make it to the safety of a small lagoon. Then the lyrics talked about her victorious life, soaring through the sea. Finally, the song concluded with her peaceful flight to a starry lagoon, far beyond the moon.

I remember as I completed writing the final verse for this song, how tears filled my eyes. They were not tears of happiness for completing the days work. No, these tears were coming from a place a little deeper. I let out a sigh as I realized that I had just paralleled the life-story of my own mother in this song. Incidentally, my mom would move on to her Heavenly home the following year. To this day, every time I listen to the song, “Caretta, Caretta,” I feel that old familiar tug on my heart, and my mind races back to a happy place, filled with fond memories of my mom.