It’s time for some Simon and/or Garfunkel by me and my strangely handsome clone:
A couple of years ago I bought a banjo. I finally started taking lessons. I found The Academy of Bluegrass, where you can take lessons on the banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle. The larger company Artistworks also has lessons for drums, bass, and classical instruments. You log in and watch however many instructor videos you have time for that day and download tablature for practice. When you feel like you have a song coming along, you make a video of yourself playing it and upload it to your instructor for feedback. Pretty cool!
Here’s my first attempt at adding some banjo to a song for YouTube – Girl by The Beatles:
This YouTube playlist covers about four years of singing with the kids.
Bob Dylan cover:
. . . assuming those parents like the same kind of music I do.
They Might be Giants
The band has created a couple of albums especially for kids, but my children (and their parents) still prefer Flood for enduring catchiness. Almost all the trivia I know about the sun (93 million miles away, 1 million x earth’s size) comes from Why Does the Sun Shine?, which I assume is a remake of one of those science-can-be-fun songs from my parents’ days. Can there be anything cuter than your child singing “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen turns into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees”?
Brak Presents The Brak Album Starring Brak – the whole family remembers the first time we heard this album’s sublimest tune, Magic Toenail. It was in the parking lot of a flooded swimming area at Red Top Mountain. We were listening to Georgia State 88.5FM’s Music for the Pre-pubescent show (so it was between 10 and 11am on a Saturday) while lathering sunscreen on our pasty white kids.
The tune is actually quite pretty but Brak sounds a little like an Adam Sandler character with and extra speech impediment. By the time we heard “It has the cutest cuticles, free of all disease. As toenails go it’s really quite ex-tra-or-di-nary,” we were hooked. Most of the album is great. It may have a mildly corrupting influence on some children with a few “shut up”s and “stupid”s, but it will all be worth it the first time you hear your 3-year-old singing along to “Beef log, beef log, what a treat, a hefty hunk of processed meat.”
I listen to these CDs even when the kids aren’t in the car. The tunes are catchy, but have enough depth to survive multiple (even frequent) listens. Most are sung in first-person as though he’s still a kid
Yellow Bus –
Not Naptime –
These albums are excellent for introducing kids (and sometimes parents) to great classical music. Richard Perlmutter has a very distinctive, fun voice, and the lyrics usually end up being a mnemonic for remembering the composer and song title. Hopefully that will help the young’uns out when they take Humanities 101 in college. I must warn you, though, that you’ll never be able to listen to these pieces again without hearing the Beethoven’s Wig version in your mind. Half of the album fetures the songs without words.
1 – The dah-dah-dah-dumb of Beethoven’s 5th becomes “Beethoven’s wig is big”. And the cartoony section of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #? becomes “Franz Liszt, the famous pianist. . .”
2 – This album’s version of Schubert’s Die Forelle (The Trout Quintet) got me hooked on Schubert in a big way. The tune is frequently stuck in my kids’ heads. The 3-year-old was repetitively chanting “the great composer Schubert” on the plane during a recent trip. Dvorak’s Humoresque is very cleverly done.
3 – Haven’t purchased it yet, but it’s got to be good.
This one is a bit different from the rest on this page. It leans toward being an audiobook, telling a fictionalized history of Beethoven’s life, narrated by a young boy writing letters to his uncle about the eccentric composer living in his house. Listeners are introduced to several Beethoven compositions, but it’s not really a music CD. Bach is also good.
It’s gimmicky, for sure, but my kids love Do You Want to Know a Secret sung by a little girl accompanied by musical instruments you might find in a nursery. The rest of the tunes are instrumental. It’s definitely not an album you’d want to be the only one you brought for a long road trip.