Travel at Home Tip #15

Travel at Home New Language German Sesame Street Sesamstraat HitParade

“Travel at Home” by hearing old favourites in new languages.


Travel on a Tune: South Africa via Canada with Themba Tana

The big box of LP records that I left behind in Tasmania contained many musical treasures, but I sold my player a few years ago and so they had all been neglected and forgotten for some time. I’d be giving too many clues about my age if I gave details (as if “LP” wasn’t enough!), though many were collected more recently from second-hand shops and some of the classics came from my parents. What a tragic loss!

Every now and then I have a flash recollection of sounds from my past that remained in that box, and I look back upon a record by Themba Tana as one of the more formative influences upon me and my musical preferences.

I bought “Themba Tana and African Heritage” when I was 14 years old after seeing him perform, and I played it loudly and often. I was particularly struck by the variety of percussion instruments which, according to the album liner notes, included “gumboot with bells”.

Themba Tana is a classically trained musician who was born and educated in South Africa before moving to Canada, where he continues to perform, compose and teach. He specialises as a drummer and is influenced by his extensive travel and collaborations with diverse musicians.


A Squeezebox and a Fiddle

Bohemian Nights is a Melbourne duo featuring violinist Ernie Gruner and accordionist/singer Phil Carroll. The song titles on the self-titled CD that we’ve been enjoying hint that they play music spanning the European continent and beyond. There are tangos and tarantellas, polkas and klezmers (Jewish dance tunes). I particularly love the moodiness of this music; it can quickly descend from joyous celebration into a gloomy lament. Also, I want to learn the accordion.

Here is a sample of Bohemian Nights, dancing in a circle is optional:

Song Sing

“You can travel on a boat

You can travel on a plane

You can travel in a dance

You can travel in a game”

Ella Jenkins, legend of American children’s music, from the song The World is Big The World is Small.

(These lyrics really hit the spot so I thought I would share them with you).


Image from Folkways Magazine, The Smithsonian Institution. See article: Ella Jenkins, Life of Song