July 16, 2008

Playing Music for Kids

By Josh Dulaney

RIALTO - Craig Newton is a demanding artist.

"I'm going to need singing, clapping and smiling," he told his audience Tuesday.

The Simi Valley-based musician performed "Musical Bugs," an hour- long set of music for 60 kids at the Rialto Library. "Even if you don't play for a living, music is good for you," he said. "If you don't play, think about learning."

Newton was self-taught. He couldn't afford lessons, so he learned from books. He brought several instruments to play, including the recorder, the ukulele and an electric guitar.

His set was part of the library's summerlong "Catch the Reading Bug" program. Each week an entertainer serious about education uses his craft to inspire kids to read.

Newton has performed at the library numerous times, said Susan Scamara, the children's librarian.

"He's enthusiastic for music and he always shows joy for his work," Scamara said.

Some kids keep in touch long after they've watched him perform. Occasionally, he performs in classrooms whose teachers saw him play when they were younger.

"It's weird," Newton said. "You don't realize you're getting older. It's neat. It's just really fun to demonstrate an instrument."

Eight-year-old Joy Adams, who attends Trapp Elementary School, enjoyed learning where each instrument originated from.

"There was one from Africa and Hawaii," she said.

In keeping with the theme, Newton played songs like "Shoo Fly" and "There Ain't No Bugs on Me." He also played a couple songs from the Beatles.

Newton performs at 150 libraries and public schools a year.

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