Sunday, April 29, 2012

Baby and Children's Music Alternatives

For years the idea that playing classical music for baby has been touted as something that will improve cognitive development.  It is even shown as something the baby sitter does in "The Incredibles" for Jack Jack. Perhaps classical music just isn't your thing.  I haven't done a lot of research into this area, but I know a wider variety of music definitely enriches the experience of baby, preschooler and his/her parents too.  It HAS been proven that music and our choices in music have a dramatic impact on mood and motivation.  Taking care with lyrics is important, but It has also been shown that children who learn how to play musical instruments (any musical instrument, not just the violin and piano - harmonica, electric guitar. . . these all count too folks) are generally better at math.  It has also been demonstrated that children exposed to a variety of genres are more likely to be interested in truly mastering one or more instruments during their school years.

Seriously.  Are you sick of "The Backyardigans", "The Wiggles" and "Goofy's Disney Favorites?"  Here are some ideas to put a little spunk into your step and the life of your child.

Universal Music has a line called "Family".  All the discs come in enviromentally-minded packaging and include music initially made for adults but chosen with kids in mind.  Some of the albums are meant to focus on a specific genre or artist, but others offer a wide variety of songs focused around a particular decade or topic.  For example: Albums included in the line have titles like, "Ella's Playhouse",  "J is for Jackson 5", "Totally 80's kids", "Jazz for Kids", "Disco Fever" and Reggae for Kids".  There is one called, "Songs for the Car" that has tracks like, "Route 66" by Chuck Barry and "Allstar" by Smashmouth.  These are the original hits, they are not re-done by a children's choir or some other group in order to make them more "child friendly" it just happens to be music that was child and adult friendly to begin with.  http://www.ilovethatsong.com/family.

There are also collections of child-oriented songs redone by more modern artists out there in the world. For example, one of the favorites at our house is "Saturday Morning".  The album was done by MCA records in 1995, and focuses mostly on cartoons from the 60's and 70's.  Alternative rock artists current in 1995 re-did theme songs as well as songs from individual episodes for this album.  Some tracks on the album include: "Scooby-Doo, Where are You" performed by Matthew Sweet,  "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)" from "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" performed by Liz Phair with Material Issue and "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah (means I Love You)" from the "Jetsons" performed by the Violent Femmes.

A Child's Celebration of. . . are also great albums that focus on songs chosen with children in mind that come from a particular genre.  Titles include "A Child's Celebration of":  "Song", "Showtunes", "Rock", "Country" and others.  http://www.musicforlittlepeople.com/ (put "A Child's Celebration of" in the search box).   Similarly to the Family Line at Universal, these songs are not re-done.  They are the original version (or at least an original version not specifically remade for this particular album) done by artists like (Danny Kaye from "song" and Dick Van Dyke from "Showtunes").

Try this website to find lullabye reditions of some of your favorite artists.  I have a copy of "Lullabye renditions of Led Zeplin"  That was WONDERFUL at nap time.  There are also albums like this for Cold Play, U2, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam - Even Black Sabbath and more.  http://rockabyebabymusic.com/  Obviously, these albums are songs that have usually been slowed down a bit (or a lot) and the lyrics have been removed.  I also enjoy, The Vitamin String Quartet for its beautiful covers of songs I love.

"Baby Blanket Music CD (Madonna) - Soothing Lullaby Arrangements of Songs Made Famous by Madonna"
"Baby Blanket Music CD (Simon & Garfunkel) - Soothing Lullaby Arrangements of Songs Made Famous by Simon and Garfunkel"
"Baby Blanket Music CD (Garth Brooks) - Soothing Lullaby Arrangements of Songs Made Famous by Garth Brooks"
"Baby Blanket Music CD (Billy Joel) - Soothing Lullaby Arrangements of Songs Made Famous by Billy Joel"

Of course you can also find some great soundtracks.  Megamind has a great Soundtrack  (though this movie was aimed at early elementary students - I might not choose it for a baby or young preschooler).  Curious George was all done by Jack Johnson and is a wonderful collection of songs that DO NOT make me crazy (I really enjoy most of the songs) and keep the little one entertained.  Scores without lyrics can often be beautiful background sounds while doing chores or running errands in the car.  For example, I LOVE the music for "How to Train your Dragon" - oh, and "Dan in Real Life".  

For teaching your preschool kids about music of different genres try, www.babylovesmusic.com.  They make boardbook/CD companion sets that teach about a particular key concept or skill in a variety of genres.  They have Baby Loves. . . Jazz, Salsa, Hip Hop, The Blues and more.


There are also: books out there with ideas for activities you can do with your toddler to teach him or her to be a musician.  Alfred 00-BMR07004 Kids Make Music Series- Babies Make Music- for Parents and Their Babies - Music Book is one of those, but there are also more suggestions in articles to come on this website itself.

Please add comments to make more suggestions or alert all of us to other wonderful resources for your favorite adult music for kids.  There will be more articles to come.

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