A Music Lover’s Guide to Children’s Tunes.

Via on Jul 22, 2010

I grew up a music nerd.

Just like the worn cliche, I was a member of the family that sang every folk song known to man in our beater station wagon on long, sticky car trips, and belted out Christmas carols by candlelight around our small-town tree. More unusually, we also sang grace in five part harmony around the dining room table. I even had a barbershop quartet practicing in my den. By the time I went to college, I had graduated to stiff, aching acapella harmonies every night of the week. Even today, I find myself peeved at the religious right for humiliating my experience of the Christian church as a place to sing sacred music for its own sake.

Nerd or not, I loved music. It only took a few minutes out west for my musical tastes to evolve toward the freedom and heart of the independent musician. Under countless influences including the Boulder Theater, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and my own experiences on the Boulder singer-songwriter scene that defined the 90′s for me, I tuned my guitar, and showed up for Open Mike Night at Penny Lane more often than my friends wanted to come.

When children are steeped in music, it enters the bones, the skin, the breath, and the memory. It lifts, soothes, explains, and comforts. Honest music spreads the stories of life before us like a book. Love, absurdity, loss and joy ask children to connect in an authentic way with the musician, the music and each other.

The power of music was transforming to me as a child. After my grandfather’s stroke, we found he could no longer speak, but amazingly, he could still sing. We all experienced a blessed moment of relief from the excruciating loss of communication with only a few lines of music. Just last weekend, it only took a single bar of song, a sampling from the Barbershoppers Harmony Festival on the Pearl Street Mall, for tears to spring to my eyes for my late, barbershopping papa.

Music runs deep.

I am always on the lookout for music with meaning. With integrity. With a soul. For children, these qualifications are especially important, and even harder to come by. I believe that the makers of music for children underestimate them; underestimate their ability to sense complex rhythms, word play, and real feelings. I like my children’s music to be real, and sweet, and important to them.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Woody Guthrie: Songs to Grow On. This album is simple, rhythmic, percussive and funny. The songs are just plain sweet, and about as stripped down and under-produced as you can get.

2. Elizabeth Mitchell: Catch the Moon. I love her style. It’s soothing, playful, and multicultural in an effortless way. Her voice is like honey. I could listen all day. An added bonus: Lisa Loeb is a guest artist.

3. Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’ve heard tell that the executives assigned to updating ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ wanted to pull off the classic jazz soundtrack and substitute something more ‘child appropriate’. I’m glad someone talked them out of it.

4. Jerry Garcia and David Grisman: Not for Kids Only. Drawn from their vast knowledge of roots and folk music, the friendship, humor and genius musicianship in this album is unmistakeable.

5. Various Artists: Daddies Sing Goodnight: A Father’s Collection of Sleepytime Songs. A charming collection of world class bluegrass and folk musicians (who also happen to be daddies) like Townes Van Zandt and James Taylor (performed by the Seldom Scene) makes for a heartbreaking, lovely collection of almost all original tunes.

5. Dan Zanes: Rocket Ship Beach. A former member of the Del Fuegos, Dan Zanes and Friends perform family music with humor, energy, respect and groove. He mixes children’s songs with traditional folk, bluegrass and world music.

7. Bev Bos and Michael Leeman: Come on and Sing. These two are the king and queen of the teacher’s conference musical workshop (more nerdiness, I know), but they are responsible for making tens of thousands of teachers sing, laugh, cry, and learn songs to sing with children. That’s pretty cool.

I’m sure we’d all love to hear about what music you’ve enjoyed listening to with your children, what music was important to you as a child, and what makes you want to dance, so leave a comment and join the conversation.

About Diana Mercer

I've been delighting in and learning from children for almost 20 years as a teacher, and former owner of Clementine Studio: Art Space for Children. I love to watch a child's spirit emerge and develop through the process of art. I'm also a big fan of stilling my mind with yoga, meditation, and the art of mindfulness, cooking up a fresh, local and organic dinner from the Farmer's Market, making sweet music with my friends, and baking fancy birthday cakes.

3,061 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal - but don't worry - you don't need an account with PayPal.)

5 Responses to “A Music Lover’s Guide to Children’s Tunes.”

  1. Music has a language all its own and allow children to communicate and flourish without constraint. Thanks for this list. There are a few I'm not familiar with so will go searching.

  2. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it'll do even better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  3. susiekkg says:

    A different $250, 000 arrived in August, following Mr. Schoeller experienced about run out from bucks as well as faced head on a difficult all round election promotion alongside the well-financed Democratic adversary.
    Mr. Schoeller’s angel is mostly a patterns are released individual and even chess supporter given its name Rex Sinquefield, so, who a lot includes came forth given that the greatest politics donor on Missouri together with one of the more abundant at any place in the area.
    As 2008, if Missouri canceled side of the bargain limits, Mr. Sinquefield includes donated greater than $20 thousand to help you area potential customers and additionally politics stage committees, generating the particular political discuss about challenges like degree, upending any politics earth in this case along with helping to make your ex probably the almost all important non-public homeowner while in the think. More than half of the cash proceeded to go to be able to advance his or her unsecured personal purpose: removing state in addition to native taxes in Missouri, an essential approach of obtaining state profit, and also swapping them all along with gross sales property taxes.
    However endeavors this current year by way of a Sinquefield-backed party towards abolish the state income tax simply by referendum stalled in the course of your challenge throughout ballot words published by your present-day secretary for point out, Robin Carnahan, your Democrat. Right now, through Ms. Carnahan going affordable afterwards with the girl word, Mr. Sinquefield, 68, provides time to restart the matter and allows spent a great deal to help you Mr. Schoeller, who as being a declare consultant voted to get rid of Missouri’s tax, be successful their.
    The no-limits presenting containing make the pup do it right could eventually come to be going over to a fabulous strategy towards you. The actual law firms in addition to activists what individuals tried a key character inside abolishing rules for beneficial properties towards third party groups – culminating inside the Best Court’s Citizens U . s . option twenty-four back – at this time dream to influence The legislature to be able to repeal typically the united states capitals upon steer efforts for you to individuals, one of many survive vestiges in the post-Watergate reforms.
    Suitable together with legal problems for you to share controls already are proliferating along at the point out quality in addition to federally. This particular thirty days, your Republican Country’s Committee expected the actual Better Judge to think about a personal injury suit challenging boundaries over the put together number an individual can give special event committees during each political election spiral.
    Tomorrow regarding lots of giving has reach circulate for Missouri, which usually during 2008 grew to be one among 5 reports that do possibly not constrain contributions in order to contenders. Mr. Sinquefield’s many financed a productive 2010 motivation that banned new regional income taxes not to mention necessary people in two for Missouri’s major municipalities, Saint. Louis together with Kansas Town, to reauthorize his or her salary property taxes each individual five decades. This advantages in order to congress in addition to politics motion committees get propelled hard work to end teacher stint for Missouri and to final assert oversight with E. Louis’s law enforcement agency team.
    “He have been willing to transformation a disagreement, ” explained Throw away Hatfield, a law firm what individuals served live your legal combat previously to help protect Missouri’s factor rules. “He’s picked up their state to bear in mind conditions everyone thought of clicking. ”
    Mr. Sinquefield has got fork out in relation to 40 percent within the capital raised by means of Mr. Schoeller. Monday, Mr. Sinquefield will keep a fabulous fund-raiser to get Mr. Schoeller on his or her property with St. Louis.
    That Democratic applicant from the contest, Jason Kander, reared more money compared with Mr. Schoeller thru the start of Sept, mainly by unions and additionally sample legal representatives, and yet no donor has got provided with just about too much.
    `
    `

  4. Diana Mercer diana mercer says:

    I love Taj Mahal's Children's stuff. Nice addition!

Leave a Reply