Children's show Musical Mornings with Mil’s Trills set for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
New York songwriter Amelia Robinson on her show that introduces music and instruments to all ages
This article is from 2014.
Kelly Apter chats to Amelia Robinson, the New York uke player behind Mil’s Trills, a musical experience that will open everyone’s eyes to the wonders of new instruments
If helping your little one discover the joy of music and language is high on your list of priorities, but one more rendition of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ might tip you over the edge, then a refreshing wind is blowing in from New York. Singer and songwriter Amelia Robinson developed her interactive show, Mil’s Trills, to give children and their grown-ups a chance to sing, dance and explore together, but with a whole new repertoire of songs and instruments.
The show’s unique selling point (aside from Robinson herself, her gorgeous singing voice and heartwarming songs) is the guest musicians who pop in to each show. ‘That’s one of the most exciting and inspiring parts of Mil’s Trills,’ says Robinson, ‘to be introduced to often rare and unusual instruments from all over the world, and get to know each musician’s story. It’s breathtaking when a baby hears the sound of a sousaphone for the first time, and completely satisfying when you teach a grown-up something new about an instrument they’ve never heard of, like the West African gyil.’
Robinson herself plays the ukulele (‘a li’l instrument with a huge heart’, as she calls it) but her time is also spent ensuring the audience feels as much a part of the show as she does. ‘It’s about establishing a warm and welcoming atmosphere where everyone plays an important role,’ she says. ‘All ages, from babies to grandparents, can participate in interactive songs through singing, dancing, playing guessing games, exploring instruments, improvising lyrics and echoing rhythmic patterns.’
Robinson’s career to date has taken her from playing at Carnegie Hall in New York, to studying with Michael Nyman and having her music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as travelling through Asia and the Middle East, discovering new instruments and rhythms. But the birth of her niece found Robinson back in Brooklyn and moving in a new musical direction.
‘Like most people, I kind of fell into children’s music, or “everyone” music, as I’ve been calling it lately,’ she explains. ‘I found myself casually playing for my young niece and a small group of friends on occasion in the park. I wasn’t even playing children’s music at that time, but my songs (and the ukulele) were catchy and playful enough to transcend age barriers. Word of mouth spread like wildfire.’
Raised in Brooklyn, Robinson was part of a weekly music group, led by an inspiring mentor who helped young people grow up feeling ‘secure and inspired’. Mil’s Trills is, says Robinson, an opportunity for her to pay that good experience forward. ‘It gives children a chance to join the band and be a part of the show so that they too can have a place to be their true selves.’
Robinson’s show is in constant demand in New York, where she has also released an album, Everyone Together Now, the lyrics from which are on her website should anyone wish to bone up in advance. However you and your young charge choose to engage with Robinson’s show, she’s ready to adapt accordingly. ‘Each audience is different, and therefore each show will be different. That’s the most exciting part of live music.’
Musical Mornings with Mil’s Trills, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 2–17 Aug (not 11), 10.30am, 11.30am, £7–£9 (£6.50–£7.50). Previews 30 Jul–1 Aug, £6.50.