Getting to Know… Lah-Lah Big Live Band

Lah-Lah Big Live Band

Lah-Lah is offering IWM a Double Pass to the 2nd Marrickville show, a Deluxe Combo merchandise pack and a signed poster of the band!

 
Stripy socked singing sensation Lah-Lah and her Big Live Band introduces children and their families to the wonderful world of music and musical instruments through the top rating, super popular ABC Kids TV series and DVDs, Lah-Lah’s Adventures.
Performing at Marrickville Town Hall on Saturday, September 26 as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival, the first show quickly sold out and a second is selling fast (details at lah-lah.com).
I recently caught up with Tina (Lah-Lah), who lives with her husband Mark (who plays Buzz the Bandleader in the show and performs with ARIA Award Winning band Monsieur Camembert) and two daughters in Erskineville to talk about Lah-Lah and the band’s ‘rise to fame’, a story that started in Sydney’s Inner West.
 
The Lah-Lah Big Live Band is a unique offering to Australian children’s entertainment. What motivated you to start the band?
When our daughters were born I had been singing with Opera Australia for 6 years and had just returned from overseas. I had the same dilemma that mums face with wishing to return to work – what do I do now? My previous life didn’t fit with family life. A friend suggested I look at teaching music to children and the first school I opened was in Newtown with initially 2-3 children enrolled. That evolved to 4 schools catering for 200 families across Sydney’s Inner West – including Erskineville, Glebe, and Marrickville. Being in the classroom taught me the fundamentals of early childhood music. At the end of term Mark and I, together with the families, would do a little show. The families suggested we should hold more performances, as there weren’t any acts out there like ours. So we thought – let’s do this! In terms of the direction for the band I always wanted to do a TV series and it has taken 4 years to achieve that.
 
What are your hopes and dreams for the band?
Lah-Lah is all about introducing kids to music and musical instruments. We hope to change the way music is perceived and that it is introduced in the early curriculum such as in preschools/ infant schools. We would also like to see increased music support for the educators as we noticed they are often lacking in resources.
We have recently been working on Lah-Lah’s Music Room in conjunction with the ING Direct Dreamstarter program. Dreamstarter uses the power of crowd funding to get social change projects off the ground. We developed an education pack that parents are encouraged to purchase for a nominal fee, which can be shared with the daycare centre. It gives the parents the power to spread the music where they want it and it takes the pressure off the daycare centre. I have been amazed at how supportive the families have been and how vocal they are about the program.
 
You are a classically trained singer. When studying, did you ever consider that you would develop and star in a successful children’s musical band? Did becoming a mum help evolve your career focus?
Absolutely not 🙂 – I was hardcore opera back then! I really had no idea at that time but I do think that what we have created uses all of the skills I have been gathering for years including acting, dancing, composition, and business skills. I also wouldn’t have come along this path unless I had become a mum. I love this career that has chosen us.
 
Being a mum and successful business owner, what have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome?
There are two main challenges – when to work and the financials. When the kids are little you work at night, which means you are tired in the morning and it becomes hard to manage the juggle between work and life. But if you find the right thing and you’re passionate about it – opportunities arise.
 Mark and I both musicians. Trying to survive financially was always us trying to reinvent the cash flow of the family asking questions such as ”is it going to work – or is it not”? You just have to trust your gut instinct and run with it!
 
You have 2 school-aged daughters. How do you juggle family and work on a daily basis and also while on tour?
We try to tour the band in the school holidays and where we can we take the kids with us. The band is basically one big extended family and then outside of that Grandma is great at doing the school run and managing homework. When we were shooting the TV series we would be gone between 5am-7pm at night – they were such long days. To help manage these hours we had an au pair for around 4-months which was a wonderful experience.
 
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming a mum and successful business owner?
Being a mum and a business owner feels like two very separate roles. When my mum hat is on – I am the hopeless mum. I never know what is going on and end up texting other mums asking if there’s an assembly on today. I try to go to as many things as I can.
 The business side has been the biggest learning as we now have an office in St Peters and try to separate work from home. When the office was at home we ended up working all the time so having the office has made a great positive impact on our family life.
 
What advice can you offer a mum looking to start her own business? What has been the best advice you have received?
The best advice I have received was from a real estate seminar where the presenter offered a tip to “take action to cause a reaction”. It can be the smallest thing. Just taking the time to write an email or make a phone call sometimes is all it takes to start the ball rolling that will cause a reaction.
 My advice is to just jump in – it will evolve and you don’t have to be so cautious and over plan and prepare – take the first step and it will lead to something.
 
What has been your most memorable experience to date with Lah-Lah?
Thave been so many but one was when the TV series first started on air. I was walking through Marrickville Metro and a little girl was spinning around singing Lah-Lahs Big Live Band and I thought – she’s singing my song!
 
Finally, you’re an Inner West Mum. Any favorite places in and around the Inner West of Sydney?
We love Newtown and spend a lot of time walking up and down King St visiting our favourite cafes and restaurants. Any time we have tried to move out of the Inner West we always end up coming back!
 
 

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