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Old 08-29-2009, 07:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Family and Children's Music

Are you someone who spends time with young kids and seeks songs for them to sing that you enjoy, too? If so, then this thread about "family and children's folk music" may be for you!

"Family music" is intended to appeal to both children and adults, while "children's music" is often created especially with young children in mind. Both are usually passed down from generation to generation as people learn the songs by singing them as children, then grow up and teach these songs to the children in their lives.

Here are some questions you may wish to answer in your post:
(1) What family or children's music did you enjoy when you were a young child or have you learned about and like now that you are older?
(2) What was the message of these songs? What did they teach you about the world? What did you like best about your favorite songs?
(3) What family or children's songs do you dislike and why? (For example, I tend not to like extremely simplistic or overly idealistic children's songs.)

"Jump up," by Dan Zanes and Friends, is an example of "family music." Dan Zanes was part of the 1980s band called The Del Fuegos and is now the front man of the Grammy winning group, Dan Zanes and Friends. I first saw the "Jump up" video while watching Sesame Street several years ago and remember thinking it was a very catchy, upbeat song, although rather simplistic. Only after joining MusicBanter did I think of investigating who made the song and thus stumbled upon "Family music."

Here is the video for you to watch:
YouTube - dan zanes "jump up"
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Originally Posted by Neapolitan:
If a chicken was smart enough to be able to speak English and run in a geometric pattern, then I think it should be smart enough to dial 911 (999) before getting the axe, and scream to the operator, "Something must be done! Something must be done!"
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I always grew up listening to the music my parents listened to.

Freestyle on KTU and Puerto Rico's finest artists.

Otherwise, I listened to a lot of children's music at my Babysitter's.

She would always play the "Hokey Pokey" and such.
Those songs always appealed to me more when there was a big group singing or dancing.
They weren't songs I listened to or enjoyed on my own.
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default "Puff the Magic Dragon"--drug song or children's song? Or both?

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Originally Posted by AwwSugar View Post
I always grew up listening to the music my parents listened to. Freestyle on KTU and Puerto Rico's finest artists.
Otherwise, I listened to a lot of children's music at my Babysitter's.
She would always play the "Hokey Pokey" and such.
Those songs always appealed to me more when there was a big group singing or dancing.
They weren't songs I listened to or enjoyed on my own.
Hi AwwSugar,
I imagine Freestyle on KTU and Puerto Rico's finest artists must have given you eclectic music tastes at a young age! Do children's songs like the Hokey Pokey seem too intentionally "dumbed down" to you in comparison to Freestyle KTU, I wonder?

When I was a kid (under age 8 or so), one of my favorite songs was "Puff the Magic Dragon," sung here on YouTube by Peter, Paul, and Mary in a live performance where Peter Yarrow tries to end the myth that the song was written about drugs (Puff the dragon was not intended to be a metaphor for marijuana wrapped up in paper):

YouTube - puff the magic dragon (live)

I like this particular live performance video because not only is Peter Yarrow quite funny, but also the video shows all the adults in the audience still enjoying the song they knew from childhood. Peter Yarrow, who was involved in writing the lyrics and then wrote the music, explains quite clearly (while singing) that the song is just about children growing up and losing their innocence, their imagination, and perhaps their unique delight in the world. Of course, songs' interpretations can grow beyond the original intentions, and there is not way to stop that, although Peter Yarrow wished to do so.

Something else I like about the YouTube video of "Puff the Magic Dragon" is the sweet post that a 13-year-old made about the song:

Quote:
This song (Puff the Magic Dragon) is sad. I'm only 13, but I have noticed that it makes most adults sad when they hear this too.

When I have a child, (when I am married of course) this will be his/her lullaby. I was thinking about that a lot. I memorized it too.
"Puff the Magic Dragon," I feel, is a great example of why folk music appeals to me: it does not attempt to be "cool" but instead feels like a very direct expression of the human condition. Folk songs like "Puff" leave for us the memory (kept alive by the song) of what those who lived before us (parents, grandparents, great grandparents) wished to give us in our lives, the ends of which they will never see.
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Originally Posted by Neapolitan:
If a chicken was smart enough to be able to speak English and run in a geometric pattern, then I think it should be smart enough to dial 911 (999) before getting the axe, and scream to the operator, "Something must be done! Something must be done!"
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Old 09-01-2009, 07:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I love the song "Puff the Magic Dragon." Always have!
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by VEGANGELICA View Post
Hi AwwSugar,
I imagine Freestyle on KTU and Puerto Rico's finest artists must have given you eclectic music tastes at a young age! Do children's songs like the Hokey Pokey seem too intentionally "dumbed down" to you in comparison to Freestyle KTU, I wonder?
They didn't seem "dumbed down" as much as they just seemed different.
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I guess we only ever had one tape of what might qualify as "family music" and we would listen to it in the car. It's a norwegian children's classic, but of course you strange foreigners won't know who Knudsen and Ludvigsen were.

This is my favourite song from them!



I imagine when I'm a parent, I won't be getting much "family music" for my kids. Instead, they can get a proper upbringing and listen to bands like Yes and Caravan! Frank Zappa as well until they learn english.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default "Inchworm song" by Frank Loesser

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I guess we only ever had one tape of what might qualify as "family music" and we would listen to it in the car. It's a norwegian children's classic, but of course you strange foreigners won't know who Knudsen and Ludvigsen were.

I imagine when I'm a parent, I won't be getting much "family music" for my kids. Instead, they can get a proper upbringing and listen to bands like Yes and Caravan! Frank Zappa as well until they learn english.
Hi Tore,

Thanks for sharing that cute Norwegian children's song! What are those two characters singing about?

Your comment about your plans for your future child's musical upbringing raises an interesting issue: many children's songs are simpler than adult songs and strive to be didactic, teaching numbers or words, and thus have a learning component that "adult" songs may lack to some degree. While adult songs have much to offer people of all ages, they have a disadvantage of sometimes being hard for children to understand conceptually, even if the complexity of the music itself appeals to them.

I tested some of my favorite songs on my 6-year-old, and he loves to dance around to DePeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" as much as I do...or listen to some Cars' songs...but I would say there *is* a benefit to songs intended to appeal to children (I'm talking age 2 - 5 here), who have not had a chance to learn as many words or figure out sentence structure as well as adults, and who also have different concerns and interests to some degree. For example, many adult songs are about romantic love, yet most little kids aren't in this realm.

Here is an example of a song that has become a children's song (and even a family song, since a variety of famous singers have sung it) because it is simple, yet beautiful, and has, I feel, a profound message beneath its simplicity:

The Inchworm Song
YouTube - Hans Christian Andersen

"Inchworm" was written by the American songwriter Frank Loesser, who also wrote the score to the Broadway hit, Guys and Dolls. "Inchworm" was first performed in 1952 in the film Hans Christian Anderson (the youtube video is a clip of it). The clip makes me want to see the whole movie because I feel they did a wonderful job showing the meaning of the "Inchworm song"--the conflict between human desires to be analytical and emotional, the tendency of people to overlook the beauty right in front of them. (Of course, mathematicians and others would say numbers and math concepts *are* beautiful, and so may be appalled by the "inchworm" song's assumption that math is cold and unappreciative of reality).

The "Inchworm" song was one I remember singing to myself pensively when I was 6 or 7...and I knew then that it was a reminder to appreciate the beauty of existence. A lovely song. One of my all-time favorites, actually. It stirred the poet in me. Also, since "Inchworm" teaches math and involves people speaking slowly and clearly, young children can learn both language and math skills from this song, an added advantage of it. This song was one I sang for my baby. I used to amuse him during diaper changes by singing the song and holding up fingers to show 1 + 1 becoming 2, etc., or having my finger crawl around like an inchworm. I've always loved inchworms...finding one dangling from a long silk tether from an oak tree and then letting it crawl on your hand and watching closely its lovely, little green body is one of life's greatest joys, I think!

I feel children's songs are like keys that allow kids to gradually open up the doors to adulthood. If we skip the stage of offering children their own special songs, we may not be reaching their emotional, musical cores as directly as we do if we rely on adult songs written for adult sensitivities. I wonder, though, are children's songs often too giddily silly and happy? When I was a child, I gravitated more toward the sad, melancholy songs that were intended for adults but had a simplicity that allowed me to understand them as a chlid.

--Erica
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Originally Posted by Neapolitan:
If a chicken was smart enough to be able to speak English and run in a geometric pattern, then I think it should be smart enough to dial 911 (999) before getting the axe, and scream to the operator, "Something must be done! Something must be done!"

Last edited by VEGANGELICA; 09-08-2009 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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When I was a young child, I enjoyed alot of different kinds of music. I think it was only in school that I became more introduced to what would be classified as "pedagogical music" that has a clear learning purpose even though my mother is a teacher. As a teacher, I enjoy bringing music into school and alot of the kids I work with enjoy the same songs I liked as a kid but I also like to incorparate alot of more modern music. I think it is interesting that alot of children's music today does incorporate more modern beats than the music I listened to in school but whether its "Hard Rock Hallelujah" or "Boy Named Sue", kids enjoy music of all sorts. Astrid Lindgrens music will always be popular here in Sweden (such as Idas Sommarvisa Youtube Idas Sommarvisa (With Video)) and I really like everything she ever wrote but I really like using English music in my classes for ESL purposes (when I am working with older kids but I use alot with the younger kids as well). To me, songs like "Sweet Child of Mine" by GNR or "Africa" by Toto are valuable in learning and the kids find it more fun to work with these type of tunes.

What childrens songs do I hate? I hate childrens songs that are, as you say, "oversimplistic". But then I am grown and what I like does not always click with younger kids. Also what is oversimplistic to me might just be at the right level for that child..thereby not oversimplistic to them. There is a techno version of childrens tunes sung by Peaches (they sang "Rosa Helikopter" YouTube - Rosa Helikopter - Peaches ) that we have in our school that kids really seem to like that I don't like at all. In fact I have had to beg them to please change the song at times (there are only so many times one can hear the techno version of "Imse Vimse Spindel" aka Itsy Bitsy Spider) But what can I say .

Last edited by Liljagare; 09-09-2009 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 09-09-2009, 07:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Argh, rosa helikopter

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Originally Posted by VEGANGELICA View Post
Thanks for sharing that cute Norwegian children's song! What are those two characters singing about?
That was unexpectedly hard to explain. Let's see, it's about make believing that you're gonna play a show and you're practicing in front of the mirror. You can use jam for makeup and an old ham becomes a guitar.

I agree that songs may have great learning potential. Still, I don't think I learned much from norwegian children songs when I was a kid but I undoubtedly learned a lot of english from listening to The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd and other sorts of records we had lying around the house when I was a kid. So much of the popular music being in foreign language (mainly english) makes that a very good source of learning.
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm surprised this thread isn't more popular. I'm sure everyone enjoyed some time of music as one time or another that was child-friendly.

Granted, child-friendly has a different definition everywhere. xD
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