Toddler’s got Ants in her Pants? Try the Element of Surprise!

The element of surprise can work like a 'reset' button!Last night Amy and I had a meeting with the family nutritionist, and 2-year-old Peanut came with us. Now, sitting quietly in a chair for a 90-minute meeting at 7:00 in the evening in a confined office is naturally not on many toddlers’ agendas.  Our first warning sign that Peanut had other ideas was the flopping around like a caught fish on the floor of the rowboat. Then came her direct words: “I want to go home!”

I could tell Peanut needed something to capture her attention, so I took out some of the plastic fruit that was on display in the waiting room and showed that to Peanut. This held her attention for about 2 minutes, and the flopping and the calls for an exodus began again. My mind went racing for something else to engage Peanut’s senses.  She asked for a snack; we provided her with her container of Cheerios and for the next 5 minutes she was into her refreshments.

We were back to the squirming and flopping after that and an idea came to me: When I was a boy, my Dad and his friends would entertain me with the “pulling a coin out of my ear” game. So, I decided to pull pieces of plastic fruit out of Peanut’s ears, along with a little “pop” sound I made by smacking my lips. She was laughing, delighted, and saying “More.” This held the restlessness at bay for a good deal longer. The key is that I introduced something new and unexpected. It seemed to work like a ‘reset’ button.

Before the next time Peanut has to be with me in a similar situation (motor vehicle agency, etc.), I plan on having a mental checklist of new ways to surprise her. I may even have a simple toy on-hand in the car’s glove compartment that I can introduce to her as a surprise in that moment. Of course it helps when Amy and I are both with her – one of us can focus on business and the other can spring the surprise. It’s possible to pull off a good surprise while multitasking, but that will probably take more planning. Hats off to the parents and caregivers flying solo for part/all of the day who have this skill down!

What surprises have you sprung on your toddler to entertain him out of a fussy moment? How well did it work? What ideas do you have for entertaining your little guy while running a tedious errand next time?

About the Author

Jason Didner is a daddy to a 2-year-old girl and leads the Jungle Gym Jam, a kid-friendly band inspired by the wonders his daughter discovers everyday. Jason and his wife Amy write the band’s lyrics together, since they have the best seats in the house to see their daughter’s reactions to all things new.

http://www.JungleGymJam.com

http://www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam

www.twitter.com/JungleGymJam

Toddler’s got Ants in her Pants? Try the Element of Surprise!

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 3 of 3

Last-Minute Breakthrough

At the end of the workday Monday, I had decided to record the vocals one last time before returning the microphone and accessories to the studio. The decision paid off. The hard work I did on the vocals the previous night had left me with good muscle memory for how to sing the parts, and it took no more than 45 minutes to end up with my best vocal take, the one that is on the final recording. I then packed up the microphone accessories to return to the studio across town. When I got there, Dave said, “Great! Where’s the mic?” Turns out, I hadn’t packed the mic in the bag with the accessories, so it would take one more round trip to straighten that out. I was positively exhausted, but glad I’d made good on my commitment to return everything.

In the Mix

The next morning, I exported the tracks from my Mac for Dave to add to the mix of the song. He set about mixing the tracks to a pleasing effect reminiscent of a Phil Spector production – bright, with vocal layers mingling nicely with many layers of instruments and textures. I imagined a splashing sound effect to introduce the tune, and Dave obtained that splash that you hear right at the beginning of the track. It took a few passes back and forth between Dave and myself by e-mail to review and perfect the mix, with my providing minor critiques along the way. The thinking was, this is a hit summer anthem in the making, which will be played on radio for generations of kids, so we need to make it a full realization of its potential – not necessarily every-hair-in-its-place perfect to the point where it’s sterile – but fully realized to the point where I’d have no regrets when listening to the finished track 10 years from now.

And Finally, a Master

When we arrived at the moment where I felt the recording lived up to its full potential, we passed the track along to Scott Anthony at the Viewing Room studio to make the final mix truly ready for radio, through a process called “mastering.” This process helps smooth out some of the little inconsistencies that crop up when several instruments and vocals are in the same mix – little “pop” sounds can be introduced into the mix that are removed in the mastering process. Choices about where the song gets louder or softer are finalized. The tone of the song is adjusted if it needs to be more of a “bright” or “round” tone.  If minor enhancements in the sound effect can bring a sparkle to the finished recording, the mastering engineer can add them. All records released by famous artists go through the mastering process and if you want your music to sound like it belongs on the radio if played before or after a famous artist, you need your recordings mastered too.

Here is the result of the mastered recording:

http://youtu.be/2u9_u2GBuEs 

A Work of Art

Image
Original photo before cropping

Since we were on such a tight schedule to release “Stay in the Pool,” we didn’t have the luxury of requesting a custom-drawn illustration as with our previous three releases. We would have to choose an existing piece of artwork to which we could buy the rights. I began searching for illustrations of kids in the pool. They were mostly reminiscent of Microsoft Office clipart, but I shared the best of the bunch with Amy, who believed we needed to go in another direction. She asked, “How about a dog in the pool?” Brilliant! I set about a search for such an image, and the photos were really striking. I ended up buying a license to use Mike Tan’s wonderful photo of a golden retriever swimming.

We cropped it to the standard square shape for CD covers and added our titles. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Overall, the making of “Stay in the Pool” was a very intense and wonderful experience that brought the family and the band closer together – an all-out effort to bring to life a moment of inspiration in the same summer as the idea “came bubbling to the top!” Now, you can enjoy this summer anthem while the days are still long and hot and the pool still keeps calling out to you and your kids!

What moments of inspiration have you had that required an immediate and all-out effort to fully realize them in a short amount of time? What creative endeavors have brought your family or friends closer together? How do you know when a creative project you feel strongly about is complete to its full potential, whether or not it’s “perfect?”

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 3 of 3

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 2 of 3

Studio Night

We carried a lot of excitement into the studio, knowing what a strong song we had. We also brought a great deal of confidence to the session, having done a full-band session before when the band was very new.

Image

Judy (bass) and Ross (drums) have become very adept at working out nuances to enhance the rhythms for each record that we make, experimenting with starts and stops that serve the song and communicating very clearly with each other and the rest of the band how we can work the part together.

Casey brought a sense of calm and quiet confidence that seemed to elevate all our abilities to do our best work. Our producer, Dave, kept the mood light and celebratory while also challenging us to keep up the pace and energy of each song from opening note to ending tag line.

Image

We had a very specific goal for our studio recording: record Judy’s bass and Ross’ drums live in the room. My guitar and vocals and Casey’s guitar performance would just be a means of giving Ross and Judy a frame of reference for where we are in the song and capture Ross and Judy’s genuine experience of recording their parts while the whole band plays together live in the studio. This process is known as “recording the basic tracks.”

Once we got a basic track that made us happy, we recorded the group shouts – the “YEAH!” after the lyric “‘Til my fingers get pruny” and the “NO!” response to “Do you think that sounds looney?” We also recorded the “POLO!” responses to the “Marco!” shouts in my lead vocal. It was definitely a loose, fun moment shared among the whole band after having been under the microscope to deliver the perfect musical performance.

Doing our Homework

We were coming up on the weekend and Dave had travel plans. He and I were both reluctant to let several days pass without progress on this time-sensitive tune, so we came up with the idea that I would rent his professional-grade studio microphone and pre-amp (a device that gives a microphone that full and warm tone you’re accustomed to hearing on professional recordings). Casey and I could then record into my Mac at home (I use GarageBand) along with Ross’ and Judy’s basic tracks. I record the final guitar tracks into GarageBand from home because I can get just as good a result at home as in the studio and not have to mind a time limit; this time the vocal was to get the same treatment.

Casey came over on Sunday night and we were off to a fast start. Casey added her extremely tasteful doo-wop backing vocals in the verses, some nice ooh’s and ahh’s were they would fit right in, and some big harmonies in the chorus that give that section of the song the feel of a big show-stopper.

Recording a second harmony vocal layer below the original layer would prove much more challenging. Casey would take on the second layer as well as the first to ensure a consistent blend of voices.  It took hard work and a willingness to try out different options that would blend with both Casey’s upper harmony and my lead vocal. At the end of 3-1/2 hours hammering out the vocals for the song, we were ready to capture Casey’s acoustic guitar part, which we recorded easily. Casey then moved over to the keyboard, where we chose the tone of a bright grand piano to complement the guitar parts. She laid out a rhythm pattern she had in mind, which inspired me to create a piano track of my own that incorporated her idea with some of my own, including slides down the keyboard and arpeggios, which are chords that are broken out to individual notes played one-at-a-time to imply the chord, instead of being played all at once.

Casey went home at around midnight. I had work the next morning, but knew that I’d have to return the rented mic the next night, as its owner would need it in the studio. So, I set out to record lead vocals at midnight on Sunday night, feeling a slight vocal strain from guiding Casey through her parts which were outside my vocal register. By 2:00 AM, I was re-recording the song’s chorus, piece by piece and was close to finishing the lead vocal – and then I heard something unusual for 2 AM: footsteps upstairs. Amy had woken up to hear Peanut wide awake and calling out for me. My last shot to record the vocals at home had seemingly come to a screeching halt. I tended to Peanut, giving her milk, reading books to her and starting her favorite movie, “Yogi Bear,” which we must have watched together over a dozen times by now. 90 minutes later, Peanut told me she was ready to try going to bed again. By the time she fell asleep, it was 3:30 and I insisted on completing the take. When I went downstairs to re-record my chorus part in one last spot, I found that the 90-minute downtime helped my voice bounce back a little, so I re-recorded all the choruses to make them sound consistent. Now, I knew there was precious little time for any sleep before having to get up and go to work. I also had a sense I should squeeze in some time the next night to re-do the vocals before returning the equipment to the studio.

To be continued…

Get “Stay in the Pool” at CD Baby!

www.JungleGymJam.com

www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam

www.twitter.com/JungleGymJam

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 2 of 3

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 1 of 3

Have you ever been inspired by a seasonal moment and created something that needs to be shared with the world in that very season? It’s one thing to start filming a Christmas movie in the spring in anticipation of a winter release, but what if your family time at the pool inspired a song about the pleasures of summer? You can’t wait for the fall to release that one, right?

That’s exactly what happened with our family on July 4 weekend. We made our first pool visit of the year and 2-year-old Peanut was so enthralled with the experience that she didn’t want to come out of the pool after about 90 minutes in the water. The inspiration for the chorus came to me right away: “I wanna stay in the pool /until my fingers get pruny…” – such a quintessential childhood memory I saw playing out with our daughter.

You can hear the result: “Stay in the Pool” on our YouTube channel.

Songwriting: The Family Business

Once we got home from the pool and Peanut went down quickly for a sunshine-and-exercise induced nap, Amy and I quickly brainstormed many pages worth of lyric ideas, to be later narrowed down to a page.

Our lyric ideas explored lots of possible ways kids experience the pool – swim lessons, pool toys, Marco Polo, pool safety, hygiene (Think “We don’t swim in your toilet” sign…), various swim strokes, and hanging out poolside with friends.

In the end, we chose a few sets of lines that worked well as verses and bridges.

Influences

When we recognized in Peanut’s overjoyed moments of the pool, the rites of childhood, summer and family came together as the basis for the song. An artist who vividly depicts childhood as he seems to remember it is Justin Roberts. So, with Justin’s model, Amy and I were prepared to know we were in a song-worthy moment with Peanut and set out to capture it.

A benefit of knowing who is influencing you is a heightened awareness not to copy your influence too closely. This awareness kicked in after recording the first rough demo. The chorus’ original lyrics were:

I want to stay in the pool
‘Til my fingers get pruny
Spend all day in the pool
Do you think that sounds looney?
‘Til my ears get water-logged and then for a while more
Isn’t that what summertime is for?

We felt we had a strong grasp on the importance of the moment, but for some reason, I decided to re-visit a Justin Roberts song about the pool that I had heard months ago – “Kickboard Baby Yeah,” and caught a line that hadn’t consciously registered with me: “Then we’ll know what summertime was for.”

Well, if my reference to “what summertime is for” were a throwaway line somewhere in a verse, I would have found it easily expendable – but at the culmination of the chorus? Now, we have a situation! Fortunately, Amy and I were talking with my parents about the developing song and summertime memories about the pool. When I had mentioned pruny fingers and water-logged ears, my Mom added: “Don’t forget blue lips. That’s when your Grandma said it was time to get out of the pool!”

By recalling that moment in the conversation, we came up with another strong image to close out the chorus and still make an important statement about summer.

Our last two lines became:

‘Til my ears get water-logged and my lips turn a little blue
I want to soak up this summer day with you

Setting the Musical Stage

A bouncy rhythm came to mind, so I programmed a bouncy rock/pop shuffle drum loop into GarageBand and extended the loop for a suitable song length. Then I recorded a rhythm guitar part with steady quarter notes marking each “bounce” in the beat. I added a guide vocal and shared it with Amy and Peanut. They seemed to enjoy it and Peanut requested to hear it again and again – always a good sign.

I focused our next band rehearsal entirely on this new song. First I played the demo while they looked over the chord chart, and then we dug into each section of the song, one at a time, repeating it until it felt natural to all the players.. Casey was improvising some wonderful backing vocals reminiscent of doo-wop and Motown. I stopped the band in order to highlight what Casey was doing and ask that she keep that in the song and develop it.

I pressed ‘Record’ on my iPhone’s Voice Memos app in the room with the band to capture a live rehearsal. I passed the song along to our producer, Dave and asked him for the first studio date he could get us.  He heard an “instant classic” in the raw recording, just as I had. A week later we would be recording this song to get it ready for radio and commercial release.

Dave wisely suggested we shorten the song a bit, as we both sensed strong potential for a hit record if the arrangement is tight. I shortened the intro, the “Marco Polo” breakdown in the middle of the song, and reduced a double-chorus at the end of the song down to a single chorus. Now we were under the 4-minute mark. We were ready to record.

To be continued…

Hear “Stay in the Pool” on our YouTube channel.

Download “Stay in the Pool” from CD Baby.

www.JungleGymJam.com

www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam

The Making of “Stay in the Pool” – Part 1 of 3

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 3)

Our toddler daughter displayed sheer delight at the songs Amy and I had written together; she constantly requested them in the car. We had all the convincing we needed that our songs could belong in the realm of the kindie music we were enjoying as a family. Our instincts told us to seek out the wisdom of people with a successful track record of creating music for kids

We presented some of our songs to more experienced children’s songwriters from the Children’s Music Network for critiques. The opinions of seasoned kids’ entertainers who weren’t “too close” to the project, as Amy and I were, would prove valuable in reconsidering what to keep in our songs and what to change. We went through multiple rounds of critiques and re-writes with Katherine Dines of Hunktabunkta Music to bring out the sense of wonder in the song “Peek-a-Boo Moon” and bring the playful side of the concept to life.

Educational songwriter Monty Harper, who is very accomplished and prolific when it comes to songs about science and research, was a natural choice to help us improve upon “Glass Bottom Boat.” He pointed us toward the verse we had written that worked far better than all the other verses, and suggested we re-write all the other verses to be consistent with (but not identical to) the best original verse. The result was a song that would introduce kids to more of the wildlife in the river and more of a sense of movement.

Songwriters Dave Kinnoin and Leslie Zak would provide us some valuable direction and encouragement on “A Bowling Party” and “Mimi the Ladybug”, respectively. We chose Dave for “A Bowling Party” because good sportsmanship was a key to that song, and Dave was resonating with young audiences with his songs about developing good personal character.  Likewise, Leslie had a strong reputation for songs that celebrate nature, which was central to “Mimi.”

Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam
Passing the torch: all Jungle Gym Jam members past and present

We had tightened our songs with the help of our mentors. It was time to put the band together. I felt it was important to present a band that could emotionally connect with the kids in the audience. What better way than to enlist a childhood friend who brought back golden memories every time I glance his way from the stage? There was one right choice for drummer: Ross Kantor!

When thinking about harmony vocals, Meg Beattie’s glowing voice and ingenious harmonic instincts came to mind immediately, as did her warm and supportive personality. Meg had always made Peanut feel happy and safe in our social encounters, and I envisioned that feeling projecting from the stage. So we reached out to Meg to harmonize and play acoustic guitar in this band.

We were still in need of a bassist. Fortunately an online service was there to help match bands with local musicians: BandMix.com. Within minutes of searching for bass in New Jersey, I was looking at a profile of Judy Helbig. When I pressed Play on her demo track, I felt the power of rock-n-roll move me as her cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” came packing presence and energy through tinny computer speakers. An audition quickly confirmed that Judy made us a complete band. Judy had crafted bass lines that prove what it is to be a master of her instrument  – a steadiness that holds the band together rhythmically, yet with a sense of adventure to explore the whole range of the bass’ expression, the sense of playfulness we wanted to express with every part of the band.

This lineup is what you hear on our first two singles, “Five Sea Lions” and “Peek-a-Boo Moon.” Four more tracks are due out with this collection of musicians. We went on to perform a full-band acoustic show and an electric concert. Each involved over 2 hours of material. We squeezed the most music we could out of everybody’s busy schedules.

Meg left our band and the kindie world to engage kids’ music in a different way – as a teacher at Montclair’s new Kidville location. This would require a full-time commitment that couldn’t coexist with being in an independent band at the same time. We’d miss Meg, but were determined to find a singer/guitarist to carry the torch along. After a thorough search of BandMix and YouTube, we auditioned some worthy candidates and chose Casey McCleary, a true disciple of 60s music, from doo-wop to folk rock, with a hippie spirit. Her musical sensibilities are guided by Peter, Paul and Mary as much as The Platters;  she’s all about the harmony. A believer in the healing properties of music, Casey leads drum circles and performs as a solo acoustic act for children with special needs. Her induction into the band involved a crash course in learning a full set of our originals in time for the 4th of July Picnic. But where she would really shine is with innovating new harmonies to new songs I started introducing to the band after Casey joined.

I’m eager to continue sharing with the band the songs Amy and I have been writing, and then putting those songs out there for the kids of the world (and their grown-ups!) We plan to release a full-length album this fall (we head into the studio tonight with the new lineup!) and have a nice mix of solo, duo and full-band performances coming together. There’s also some out-of-town travel in the works. You know the history now; we’ll learn the band’s future together as it comes to be every day. A million thanks to Peanut for inspiring this marvelous reinvention of our family and setting us on a musical mission, along with friends old and new!

How did you get to where you are in pursuing your passion? Who helped you? Who were you helping as you found yourself on your path? Whose opinions have you sought out or received, and how did you use them? What obstacles made your endeavors what they are today?

http://www.JungleGymJam.com

http://www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam

http://www.twitter.com/JungleGymJam

http://www.youtube.com/JungleGymJam

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 3)

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 2)

The potential to be creative together was a spark in our marriage ready to ignite at any time, and Amy and I were throwing all kinds of sparks as new song ideas for our daughter seemed to come from everywhere. I couldn’t tap out the ideas on the iPad as fast as they were coming. “Oh, look Peanut,” I’d say, “there’s the bowling alley. Someday you’ll have a party there” – Boom! A Bowling Party song was ready to rock! “Wow, Peanut’s watching her cousin crawl under the glass table like it’s a glass bottom boat ride!” – A little research and a Glass Bottom Boat song was on its way. “OK Peanut, you can play my guitar with the pick; just don’t put it in your mouth…” and The Pick Song came into being.

This was the beginning of a project to share our own celebration of song and learning with our daughter and all the kids of the world who’d like to hear it (and their grown-ups too!) but our past experience making music for school kids helped. Since I picked up a guitar in my teens, I had always set aside at least one day a year to perform for my Mom’s elementary school classes and take questions and requests. When I married Amy and she got into teaching I made sure to take two days off for that purpose – one for my Mom’s school and one for Amy’s. When she took over the French program in pre-school, we would translate kids’ songs we knew into French, or make up new songs with a verse in English and a verse in French. We enjoyed making this music and our ultimate goal in children’s music at the time was to produce CD’s specifically for Amy’s classroom.

Jason_at_Mayfair at Travell School, Ridgewood, NJ 2002

Now, as we were rediscovering our own creative power and imagining a way forward with it, we were also getting to know about the players in kindie music. I had joined the Children’s Music Network and started to make some contacts and learn about a whole universe of artists making authentic music for kids that respected their intelligence and capacity to soak up new experiences. One band was very familiar for different reasons: They Might Be Giants, long known for their quirky and eclectic tunes in the 80s and 90s, had made a series of extraordinarily catchy and pleasing albums and videos for kids on the subjects of the alphabet, math and science. Dan Zanes, formerly of college mainstays The Del Fuegos, had also made the move from a successful pop/rock career to a way of making children’s music with integrity. Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell also reinvented themselves to make music intended for families.

My networking and research brought us deeper into a universe of music for families and new names began to appear repeatedly and a wealth of songs became available to discover for our daughter, now a toddler. We’d repeatedly hear of The Not-Its, Joanie Leeds, Recess Monkey, and Milkshake. Their music carried a ton of energy and musicianship with lyrics easily relatable in a child’s life. We were a long way away from “Old McDonald” territory.

One band really stood out for us as an example of pouring absolutely everything into delighting kids: Princess Katie and Racer Steve. They brought precise, diverse and adventurous musicianship and enhanced it with colorful characters that are extensions of the singer and guitarists’ personalities. Katie was always an admirer of the way Princess Diana transformed royalty into a symbol of compassion for those with less and engaged the fantasies of little girls along the way. Steve developed a persona around his passion for the race cars he builds, capturing the imagination of little boys (and some future Danica’s too…). There were skits in between songs; full-blown cartoon characters were realized. The music was accessible and funny for kids and adults. There were songs about honesty and kindness, interspersed between clever wordplay in “Sand in my Sandwich” and the rich imagery of “We Dress Ourselves!”

We now had some important influences, models of how a kindie band could enhance family life.  We had a growing songbook of originals and covers. Our daughter would frequently request our new original songs, so we knew they were working.  At this point, we needed some guidance and we needed a band. The quest for mentors and musicians had begun.

To be continued…

http://www.JungleGymJam.com
http://www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam
http://www.twitter.com/JungleGymJam
http://www.youtube.com/JungleGymJam

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 2)

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 1)

5-month-old baby on guitar
Music is a huge part of our family life

There she was, doing her funny little dance in the basinet to the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” and a string of other danceable hits from the Fab Four – arms waving, legs kicking. Then came the next track on the album: “Yesterday.” The dancing suddenly stopped a soft whimper came over her. “How does she know?” I asked Amy. She shrugged. Our musical journey with our tiny little baby had begun with a marvelous mystery.

Back when we were a childless couple, Amy and I talked about filling the house with music for a kid in our future. We knew we’d play Beatles in the house every Sunday – Q104.3’s Breakfast with the Beatles program was a given. We also figured we’d be educating a child on local New Jersey mainstays, like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. And we talked about how we’d write our own songs for our child, just as we had done for our niece’s first birthday.

Family breakfast and dinnertime often had a soundtrack – Carole King, James Taylor, John Mayer, Norah Jones, Simon and Garfunkel, and Mumford and Sons frequently set the scenes for our cherished family time at the table. And Amy, a teacher, knew plenty of traditional and camp songs to sing to our daughter to teach about animals, counting, parts of the body – the essentials for babies approaching age 1 and preparing to jump into the family conversation. I started to seek this music online.

We had a little help in the form of a Brooklyn kindie outfit known as Rolie Polie Guacamole. They had been regularly entertaining my niece, along with a huge swath of Brooklyn’s mommy-and-me crowd. My Mom had given us a RPG album on CD before we even had a child, and it started getting plenty of play on car rides with our daughter when the time came. We also already had a children’s music CD by the great actor John Lithgow – “Singin’ in the Bathtub.” Judging by his performance in the sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun,” we expected – and got – a collection of children’s songs performed with wild, zany abandon, untouched by any tendency to take himself too seriously.

I was becoming aware of The Wiggles and wanted to sample their music, along with similarly appropriate artists for a one-year-old. So I created a custom channel on IHeartRadio based on “The Wiggles.” Their music was certainly well produced and listenable, but what followed was a game-changer. I heard the energy and earnest sense of fun come pouring out of our iPad in the form of the Laurie Berkner Band’s “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz).” There was not one ounce of condescension in her voice, in the lyrics or in the music – just tremendous warmth and a playful spirit. Then came Justin Roberts’ brilliant “Pop Fly,” a number that proudly displayed how he remembers and gets what it is to be a kid with a daydream.  Also mixed in were some half-hearted attempts at children’s music that sounded like rushed, home-made demos with tinny sounding computerized accompaniments and bored-sounding vocals. I didn’t bother remembering their names

The contrast between the great and mediocre musical artists for kids, along with our daughter’s growing curiosity and engagement with the world, set Amy and me on a path of writing songs that captured our little one’s encounters with her environment, songs through which we’d strive to make our own truly great music for toddlers, preschoolers and possibly grade schoolers.  Our daughter showed us the power of her imagination when she first saw a ladybug on the ceiling and then soon pretended to see them everywhere. I asked her “What’s the ladybug’s name,” and she answered “Meee.” I asked “Mimi?” She said “Yeah.” And the song “Mimi the Ladybug” was born. She marveled at the moon reappearing from behind cloud cover on an autumn night. And the idea for our “Peek-a-boo Moon” song was set in motion.

As we created our own kid-friendly music infused with our love of rock-n-roll, we immersed ourselves in the community of kids’ music and I became aware of the surprisingly big pool of high-quality kindie artists, who treated their music with the same level of energy and authenticity that you’d find on any number of great rock classics.

To be continued…

http://www.JungleGymJam.com
http://www.facebook.com/JungleGymJam
http://www.twitter.com/JungleGymJam
http://www.youtube.com/JungleGymJam

How We Discovered Kindie Music for Our Child, then Joined the Movement (Part 1)