OF ALL THE HOLIDAYS, CHRISTMAS IS THE ONE MOST ASSOCIATED with music. Musical sound wafts through December days and nights. So what better time to give gifts that embrace music or musical motifs? To help with Christmas shopping, we've come up with some gift suggestions for music lovers, young and old.
STOCKING STUFFERS AND OTHER GOODIES
Tapes and compact discs have to top the list because they are relatively inexpensive -- tapes average $10 and CDs $15 -- and just about everybody loves to get them. Suggestions from the staff at Recordmasters in Towson's Kenilworth Bazaar include new releases such as Hammer's "Too Legit to Quit," U-2's "Achtung Baby," Harry Connick Jr.'s "Blue Light, Red Light" and George Winston's "Summer." Also new are "Two Rooms," a tribute to Elton John by the Beach Boys, Sting and Rod Stewart, and Michael Torke's "Color Music," performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Zinman.
Besides tapes, several other musical gifts are inexpensive and easily fit into Christmas stockings. The Shawan Shoppe in Hunt Valley has stencils and rubber stamps with musical motifs, ranging from $5 to $15. West Germany's Hohner harmonicas are available at the Music and Arts Center in Cockeysville. Check out the reproduction of the 1896 Marine Band harmonica, priced around $15.
Other music makers include an old-fashioned dark whistle priced at $3, at the Store Ltd. in the Village of Cross Keys, and sturdy plastic kazoos and castanets, about $2 each, at the Toy Maze in Timonium. For something sweet, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gift shop at the Meyerhoff has assorted lollipops in the shape of musical notes for $1.
If you know someone with a new baby, how about giving him or her a copy of "Baby's First Christmas"? This 1950s recording by Connie Francis is available at Ferndale Oldies Records in Glen Burnie. Store prices range from $5 to $15, depending on the condition of the records.
GIFTS FOR KIDS
For the little ones, the Early Learning Center in Hunt Valley Mall has a Little Tykes xylophone on wheels for $11 and Playskool's cassette player and tape recorder. Priced just under $40, the cassette player is sturdy plastic and is recommended for children 3 and up.
Musical toys for babies and toddlers at Lionel's Kiddie City on Eastern Avenue include the Marching Band (drums, cymbals, xylophone and tambourines) from Fisher Price, priced about $19; Video Technologies' Kritters Keyboard, for $30, that lets children as young as 2 play and sing favorite nursery rhymes, and a Listen and Learn Singing Ball from Texas Instruments. Priced at $25, the ball, when activated by a rolling motion, plays 12 different nursery rhymes for babies.
Instruments make great gifts for children just beginning to show an interest in music. Chimalong, at the Store Ltd., is a set of color-coded, precision-tuned aluminum tubes. It comes with rubber-tipped mallets, a songbook and a carrying case and is priced at $45. At Green Spring Station, MCX has the Music Maker, a miniature, handcrafted autoharp from Russia that comes with accompanying music for $52.
For the kid who wants to be a rock, pop or rap star, the Singing Machine Recording Studio comes with pre-recorded background music, a microphone, a dual cassette deck and AM-FM radio. You can find it at Toy-R-Us at Towson Marketplace for about $90.
The staff at the Children's Bookstore in Roland Park has a number of recommendations for children's books with a musical theme. Among them are "Aida," retold by opera great Leontyne Price ($16.95), "Lambs' Tales From Great Operas," "Alligators and Music" and "Frogs and the Ballet," all priced at $8.95. Also at the store is Wendy Thompson's Composer's World series on the lives of great composers, priced around $16 each.
PRESENTS FOR EVERYONE
Gifts for music lovers come in all shapes and sizes. ZYZYX! at the Festival at Woodholme in Pikesville has a large collection of Harries, little whimsical ceramic figures in tennis shoes, playing instruments like trumpets, drums or saxophones. They cost $25 each and can be special-ordered to match the figure of choice with the instrument of choice.
If you have game players on your list, there are several musical choices this holiday season. One of the hottest new games is Play It By Ear, a quiz-type board game that includes sound bites, arranged on a compact disc, from classical music, pop music, folk songs and more. The Game Keeper in Towson Towson Center has it for $39.95. (Note: A CD player is needed to play this game.)
What's Your Game at Harborplace has three musical games, all for around $30. Songburst is new this year from the Games Gang. It is a complete-the-lyrics game with songs from the 1950s and '60s. The Great Composers by Aristoplay involves the lives, times and music of Beethoven, Bach, Chopin and Brahms, and comes with a cassette. Humm . . . ble is a new trivia game that makes players hum tunes or act them out in charades.