Part of being kid in Chicago is rocking out with Mr. Singer. The kindie-folk icon has led musical story time at Lincoln Park Zoo, taught Wiggleworms classes at Old Town School of Folk Music for 12 years, and even gave former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s kids private music lessons. Now city kiddies can jam with Mr. Singer in a whole new way: He’s just opened his own studio for group music classes.
LeitHaus Studios Chicago, named after Mr. Singer’s real name (Neil Firstenleit), is located on the ground floor of an 1893 Lakeview home. It’s a joint venture between he and Kerry Appleberry, who live on the home’s upper level, and offers music classes for ages 6 months to 6 years. The 360-sq.-ft. space doubles as a photo studio, where Kerry takes portraits of kids and families looking their adorable, easygoing best.
The Music Classes
Mr. Singer is known for his colorful getups, warm personality and upbeat, original music. He brings it all to LeitHaus Studios with lessons that introduce kids to music fundamentals and get them excited about singing and music making.
Classes are mixed-age and designed for young children and their caregivers. They’re energetic whirlwinds of call-and-response sing-alongs, movement and instrument play. So kids can understand the nuts and bolts of music, Mr. Singer uses a chalkboard to draw notes on a staff and has kids clap on the beats.
Come ready to enjoy Mr. Singer’s original songs, like “Everything’s Connected” and “This One’s Just for Fun.” He also pulls from Americana folk albums and plays gospel-y songs like “This Little Light of Mine.” There is a wall of instruments — acoustic guitars, ukuleles, banjos, synthesizers — that he and the kids can pick and choose from. Sometimes, there’s an added bonus: Kerry may appear as her kindie-pop persona, a sidekick to Mr. Singer that dresses in pink clothes and a wig to get the crowd revved up.
The Photo Studio
When Kerry isn’t casting magic in the music classes, she’s using LeitHaus Studios as a photo studio. Her style is clean and simple, so the focus is on the kids and their shining personalities.
To give photos their charm, Kerry shoots against an exposed brick background and sometimes uses props, such as an antique tea set she inherited from her mother. A festive mood is set with piped-in music. And it isn’t out of the question that Mr. Singer may appear with a guitar in hand during Kerry’s shoots.
It all adds up to a picture-perfect new destination for Chicago families.
How to Sign Up
Registration is now open for six-week introductory music classes. Classes are held Tuesdays beginning November 5, Wednesdays beginning November 6 and Fridays beginning November 1 (classes are pro-rated, if you join late). There is a special introductory rate of $115/child. Register by emailing email@example.com or call 773-655-2693.
LeitHaus Studios Chicago
1641 W. Irving Park Rd.
Have you been to a Mr. Singer show? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Courtesy of LeitHaus Studios Chicago / Kerry Appleberry