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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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(Last updated August 4, 2017)

As some of you may know, I have a bit of a musical background. I took piano lessons throughout grade school and high school, and also taught piano part-time for many years. I actually started working toward getting my ARCT Teacher's diploma but that got put permanently on hold because of life events. Then when we moved into our current house, we had to give away our baby grand because of lack of space plus we never figured out a place where we could easily fit an upright, so I went without a piano for many years until I decided to buy a digital piano (Yamaha DGX-660); it arrives next week and I can't wait to start playing again! I also have played, with varying degrees of competence: flute, tin whistle, guitar, Celtic harp. 

I enjoy songwriting, though haven't written anything new for a while (aiming to change that). Here's a song I co-wrote in 2012 with my friend Errol Elumir, based on the first children's picture book I illustrated, I'M BORED:

I'm Bored Music Video (inspired by the new picture book from Simon & Schuster BFYR) from Debs & Errol on Vimeo.

Thanks to Errol's daughter for her help creating the video above! An aside: Did you know that there's going to be an sequel to I'M BORED?? I'm working on the art for Michael Ian Black's wonderful I'M SAD story now, and it launches from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in June 2018.

I still sometimes get together with my filk music group, Urban Tapestry. We've been playing together for ages, have performed in the U.S., Canada, Germany and England.

Photo: Michael Pereckas.

Our next gig is in January 2018 out in Seattle at Conflikt. I usually noodle on the flute but also sing some background harmonies (I don't have a stellar voice but my music partners Allison and Jodi have encouraged me to sometimes sing) and play bangy hand percussion instruments.

Speaking of Errol, here's his cover of "Homecoming", a song I wrote based on one of my favourite Ray Bradbury songs (see the lyrics/chords here):

An aside: If you cover any of my songs, especially my songs based on books, please do let me know!

When WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? was about to come out, I asked my friends Ookla The Mok (a fantastic nerd rock band that includes my friends Rand Bellavia and Adam English) if they could write a song that I could use in my crowd-sourced video. Thanks to all who participated! Here's the final video with Ookla's song:

I've been friends with Rand Bellavia and Adam English for many years. Our music groups have collaborated in the past on each other's albums. You can hear me playing the flute on one of their very first CDs, "Less Than Art" in 1997 (I start playing around the 52 second mark):

Thanks to our mutual friend Luis Garcia for putting together this video!

Here's some of the sheet music notes I made while working out this part:

 You can see me playing flute with my music group, Urban Tapestry, at FilKONtario in 2013:

The song was written by a friend of ours, Lloyd Landa, who passed away years ago. Thanks to John Durno for the video, and to Tom Jeffers for some of the footage used in the video.

My music partners, by the way, are also my dear friends: Allison Durno (a school teacher) and Jodi Krangle (a professional voiceover artist).

We've had fun collaborating with other filk friends in the past, like Chris Conway. This photo is from a convention called Confluence (in Pittsburgh, I think) in 2004:

You can hear us on Chris's recording of "The Alien Jellyfish Song" on one of his albums (my flute starts at the very beginning):

I do so love making music with other people, especially casual jam sessions. My main challenge these days: finding the time. :-)

Here's a short clip of me playing my Celtic harp. As you can tell, I am NOT very good! But I do love my harp and it makes me happy just to LOOK at it (there's a long story behind the harp, but I'll save that for another post :-)).

And for those of you patient enough to read all the way to the end of this page, here's a track called "Debbie Ohi" on Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff's GRATED HITS album. :-)

Lyric is by Michelle (Vixy) Dockrey and Jeff Bohnhoff.

I had heard them perform the song in open filk but didn't know it was going to be on the CD until I bought a copy at their launch party! In case anyone is curious about the background to this song: Jeff, Maya and Vixy are good friends of mine, and the song has a bunch of insider jokes. Note that even back then, I had mixed feelings about SQUIRRELS! :-)