Listen: Tina Harris, better known to her young fans as Lah Lah, chats to Sam Robinson and Ally Barnes on Hope Breakfast.
You never know what a career-change may lead you to. For Sydney opera singer Tina Harris, it resulted in jamming all over the land in Lah-Lah’s Big Live Band — a children’s show on ABC KIDS.
“Like so many mums I went off and re-trained,” Tina told Hope 103.2. “I opened a little class, and my class turned into a school and then my school turned into four schools.”
How Lah-Lah Was Born
Tina’s career change came about because she wanted to leave her lifestyle of touring to raise her two daughters. A friend in the opera suggested she teach early childhood music.
“It was actually the parents that were coming into the classes [saying] you and Mark are great, why don’t you do a show? That’s how the idea of Lah-Lah was born.” Tina said.
Touring As A Family
While Tina wanted to escape the lifestyle of touring because she was away from the family too much, ironically she and husband Mark, who plays Buzz in the band have toured more than ever before—but now their two daughters get to join in on the fun.
“We generally tour during school holidays. Emily and Lily come on the road with us and they’re part of the crew.” Tina said.
“Lily is really interested in tech, she gets up on stage and she’s helping with setting up the lights and microphones and then jumps in behind the merch counter. For her, I think she’s just learning some amazing life skills.”
How do you they have the energy to be on stage while juggling the rehearsing, touring, running a business and parenting two teenage girls? The answer is coffee.
“Emily, our little one, is our barista, so she’s our coffee machine,” Tina laughs. “Everybody loves Emily because she makes the coffee.”
The Best Part of Live Shows
It can be a dramatic experience for kids when the live show ends and that’s why there is the opportunity for the kids’ to touch and play with the instruments after each show. Tina considers this as “the best part of the show.”
“Coming out into the audience and meeting the families and letting the kids play the musical instruments; I think that is the magic of what Lah-Lah is,” Tina said.
But it’s not just the children who get to enjoy the instruments; the parents also get to enjoy seeing their children interact at this level.
“The thing that parents write in about time and time again is how magical it is when their little one gets to put their hands all over the double bass, pluck the strings and feel where the music comes from. I think this tactile experience for the little ones is so important,” Tina said.
Tina and her husband love the idea of educating children in the grass roots of music. Amongst their busy schedules, they also travel to preschools, playgroups, daycare centres and kindergartens with a show specially written for littlies.
These new shows not only entertain but teach and reinforce early childhood musical concepts.