Who is James Funnyhat? Well my actual name is James Patterson and I am a children's musician & storyteller based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Typically, I perform for 300 - 500 children every week. That may sound a bit crazy and extremely exhausting but I love every minute of it. Young people have such an overflowing, genuine enthusiasm they give back all the energy many times over. At the end of the day, I still have lots to give to my beautiful and inspiring wife, Kathy, our daughter, Sage, and son, Reed.
How did it all begin? Let's see . . .
For some reason there was always an inherent ability to connect with children. I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba back in the 70's when things were not quite so organized and structured as they seem to be today. Instead of a regime of lessons and classes kids had much more unsupervised free time to run around in parks and play independently.
Later, as a teenager, I developed a passion for music and learned to play guitar, piano, accordion, and other instruments. This turned into a life-long hobby that brought much satisfaction but that I never expected would turn into a career.
After many travels and various jobs, those two passions: children & the arts, all came together in the most unexpected way. I was running a restaurant in Toronto called The Village Café. It had a family oriented atmosphere because I put out toys, let the kids help make cookies, and put on puppet shows from behind the counter.
At one point, a friend of ours asked my wife and I to play music for her toddler. We were happy to do it but wanted to open it up to the whole neighborhood so we joined up with another friend of ours and put on a show for the public in cafe. The first show was very successful so we did another one, and it soon became a weekly event with an enthusiastic local following. We performed original songs and songs and stories from around the world. To make a simple but fun costume, we all wore these big, colourful hats. This suggested an obvious choice for a name: "Three Funny Hats," and began my now extensive collection of crazy hats.
From there, I kept being approached about doing other kinds of performances such as Mother & Baby classes, Pre-School shows, storytelling workshops for school age children and all the things you can find in the 'programs' section. Through a combination of word-of-mouth, promotion, and the enthusiasm of really loving what I do, I was soon busy full time.
Today, I am constantly learning new songs, writing new songs, writing stories and learning new stories to tell. I feel very privileged to be able to use my talents fully with the most spontaneous and joyful audience on earth: children.
Since then, Kathy and I have had a daughter and son come into our lives. As well as being a happy, life-changing, and profound experience, it has also revealed to me the real nitty-gritty of children and parenting. I now have a much fuller admiration for the parents whose children I entertain and also a deeper respect for how important music, story, and the arts are in a child's life.
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