Breathing new life into an old book is a team effort, and a photo shoot like the one for Make Music! is an exciting chance to see the pieces come together.

boy playing homemade instrument

Photographer extraordinaire Mars Vilaubi, capturing a moment for our upcoming book, Make Music!. A wonderful advantage of Storey is that we can create our own visual content, thanks to Mars (who is also our photo and video editor) and our in-house photo studio.

What do a flower pot, a saucepan lid, a dandelion, and a plain old metal coat hanger have in common? They all can make music, and together they can make up an orchestra. And in the same way that many ordinary objects have the potential to become instruments, so does every kid have the potential to become a musician.

girl plays flower pot chimes

Flower pots find their musical soul, as Alethea and Mars fine-tune the shot.

girl plays flower pot chimes

The final shot. Photo by Mars Vilaubi.

We’re doing a book about this, called Make Music!, a splendid full-color revised edition of a beloved older book.

Making Music and Make Music book covers

Old cover (left) and new.

With a new look and additional content for 21st-century kids, it’s one of those rare projects where every step is fun. That’s thanks to:

  • The timeless content of the old edition
  • The purposeful playfulness of our new author, 22-year-old Norma Jean Haynes
Norma Jean Haynes and boys playing bucket drums

Author Norma Jean Haynes with young musicians.

  • The inspired, buoyant book design by Alethea Morrison, Storey’s creative director
  • The light-hearted instruments collected or created and styled by props-mistress Liseann Karandisecky
Girl playing homemade wooden guitar

Photo © Jared Leeds

  • The resonant wooden instruments built by carpenter (and musician) Tony Pisano
  • The eye, ingenuity, and patience of photographer Mars
girl looks at photo on computer

Creative director Alethea, photographer Mars, and a young musician gather around the computer for a look at the results of the day’s music-making.

For five days we worked with terrific kids during a series of photo shoots and witnessed their pleasure in playing music on everyday things.

children play homemade instruments

Percussion conversation

boy plays saucepan lids

This boy kept playing his tower of pot lids — tapping and listening to the different pitches of the different lids — long after the shot was captured. His focused, curious listening is evidence of musical aptitude.

It was my first time in the studio with our team, and I was impressed by their professionalism: Alethea, cool and collected, seeing the big picture; Mars, quick and sure, ready with a joke whenever needed; Liseann, managing to combine absolute super-efficiency (having props in place exactly when needed) with irrepressible humor.

Some on-set secrets….

kids model for make music cover

The book cover photo: here is how Mars and Alethea “laid out” the shot.

prop table for make music photo shoot

Liseann’s prop table, adorable and impeccably organized.

boy with homemade coat hanger chime

The coat hanger I mentioned? Try it yourself. You need a meter-long piece of string and a plain metal coat hanger. Stand up, loop the string around both of your index fingers, hook the hanger on the middle of the string, and stick your fingers in your ears. Let the hanger dangle and knock against things. You will hear an astonishing ringing gong like a cathedral bell — but no one else will hear it. Photo by Mars Vilaubi.

Amid the sheer fun of the project, there’s the joy of watching this book literally coming to life — as the original drawings turn into photos of real kids turning into musicians.

thimble fingers musical instrument illustration and photo

Thimble Fingers is one of the easy musical instruments that has been translated (and transformed!) from illustrations in the original Making Music to the vibrant photography in the new Make Music!.

one-boy band

One-boy band. Photo by Mars Vilaubi.

Deborah Burns

Deborah Burns has been an editor at Storey Publishing for more than 25 years. When not working on books about farming, animals, bees, and birds,… See Bio

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