Lauren Finkler, Editor Jean Clark Laube had plenty of rhymes, and her daughter Kay Laube Benson, of Winnetka, had a reason to ensure those rhymes didn’t go unheard.
Her mother had always been a very busy woman, and also a very creative one. Having run nursery schools in her Connecticut home for 28 years, Jean had also developed unique performances, which the children put on for parents over the years. She had written about 180 songs for nursery school programs, explained Kay.
In addition to the music, she had created adventure themed scripts involving trips to the zoo, circus and more. Kay thought it would be fun for the two to record some of her mother’s songs, and with the help of composer Gary Fry and speech language pathologist Claire M. Halloran, that fun activity has since become Mr. Rhythm Musical Journeys.
Fry recruited groups of professional singers ages 5-8 to sing the songs and Kay and her mother would come to the studio to watch the music come to life. “My mother had a bit of dementia … but when we were recording that music – she was there. She remembered all of it,” Kay said. Her mother was a constant presence in the studio and whenever there was a mistake, she was the one who caught it. “Here’s a woman who’s 89 years old who’s finally finishing something that’s very important to her,” Kay said. Kay and her mother spent the next six years working on the project. Although her mother wasn’t always responsive, Kay said the songs brought her back. “I would download the music and play them and although she was not able to respond, I’d see her facial expression change,” Kay said. Jean passed away June 2, 2011 at the age of 92. “I was really lucky to spend the last six years of her life [with her] doing something she always wanted to do,” Kay said.
Continuing her legacy Kay comes from a creative background, with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and experience as a professional photographer. She also served as the director for the pageant at Winnetka Congregational Church from 2002-2008, working with anywhere from 80-110 kids each year.
Today, Kay continues to build upon her mother’s dream and is currently readying to release two new productions in addition to the seven that are already available. “I ended up with the dream,” Kay said. “I took it and ran with it.” Kay added a few components to the production packages, such as educational activities to further the learning experience.
The programs are designed for preschool and kindergarten age children, and the programs are designed to encourage kids with special needs to participate in one way or another. The performance packages come complete with: scenery ideas, a script, musical tracks, educational activities, worksheets and more. Packages start at $39.95.
To date, Kay estimates that the company has sold more than 300 productions, with some buyers residing nearby in Northbrook, and others as far away as Australia. “The work is done for them. All they have to do is put their fun and their energy into it and they have a show,” Kay said. The Mr. Rhythm musicals include: “Zoo Holiday,” “Mother Goose’s Birthday Party,” “Picnic Adventure” “The Farmers Red Barn.”, “The Fair”, “The Month is October”, and “The Circus”. Kay plans to add a collection of folk dances. eventually, For more information about Mr. Rhythm Musical Journeys, visit www. mrrhythmschildrensmusic. com. Life & Arts Kids enrolled in a summer camp in Northbrook perform in Mr. Rhythm’s Circus play, one of seven performances currently available. Mr. Rhythm’s productions come complete with props and themed activities.