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March 1, 2012 By:
Singer Brings a 'Music Jungle' to the Suburbs
The room was filled with the smiling faces of children. Laughing and dancing, the youngsters sang along to the music, surprising even the song leader with their responses.
Holding plastic shakers decorated with colorful ribbons in many different hues, the children crowded around Lori Turner as she transitioned from one song to the next, using her melodic talents to teach the children to clean up after themselves and to listen to their parents.
Lori and Andrew Turner, who make up the children's music group Music Monkey Jungle, came to Aish HaTorah in Bala Cynwyd on Sunday afternoon to perform their program, Kinderlach Rock, for about 40 children and their families.
Responding to music about Shabbat and Purim, as well as to classic standards like the "Hokey Pokey" and "Five Little Monkeys," the children matched Lori Turner's enthusiasm and ruach almost note for note.
Though Purim was still more than a week away, some of the children came dressed in holiday costumes. One girl was a princess or a queen -- perhaps Esther herself -- while one little boy came dressed as a strongman, with his powerful biceps straining through his shirt sleeves.
By Andrew Turner's own admission, his wife is the star of the show: Lori Turner sings and plays the guitar while he works a video camera and makes sure the equipment works properly.
Lori Turner was a music teacher for 15 years, having earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education. About three years ago, she made what she described as the "difficult decision" to leave the classroom to perform children's music full time.
It was not a decision made lightly, and Lori Turner credits her husband with helping her.
"It was turning into its own business" anyway, she said of her part-time performing.
Shortly after, she came up with her Jewish music program, "Kinderlach Rock," after seeing a dearth of such events in the local Jewish community.
"Everyone talks about the show. I kept hearing about it," raved Rebecca Berdugo, holding her 10-month-old daughter in her arms.
Leah Sharabi said her daughter's reaction to the music proved Lori Turner's effectiveness.
"My daughter is six months old, and babies usually clench their hands, but her hands were open and her arms were spread wide," Sharabi said.
And it seemed that every "little monkey" present went home satisfied, perhaps having spent enough energy singing and dancing so they just might give their "primate parents" some rest during the afternoon -- at least for a little while.