Hap Palmer has been at the educational kids' music game for several decades now, so sometimes it's nice to go back to his beginnings to see how his output has changed. Let's take a look at Getting to Know Myself.
Palmer's simple and fun songs on his 1972 album Getting to Know Myself are never overcomplicated, allowing even the most musically unskilled adult to lead his or her children in fun and engaging musical group activities. The album intermingles movement and activity songs with tunes about feelings, friendship, and emotions, creating a nice little classroom aid for caregivers and teachers of our young children.
Getting to Know Myself, one of Hap Palmer's earliest records, is a great musical resource for Early Childhood and preschool classrooms, and First and Second Grade students will still enjoy and be engaged by the sometimes silly and energetic songs, as well.
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If you've come looking for rousing, jolly, majestic holiday tunes, you've come to the wrong place with this album. However, if humble, sincere, authentic, homespun renditions of Christmas songs are your thing, The Seeger Sisters' American Folk Songs for Christmas will be a true listening treasure for you.
The Seeger Sisters' American Folk Songs for Christmas gives listeners a unique look into a long-lost genre of music: historically correct, lo-fi folk music, performed without a hint of schmaltz or irony. Sure, the album isn't for everyone, but everyone should give it at least one spin. And make sure to check out Elizabeth Mitchell's updated version of this project, the recently-released The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook.
Image Courtesy Folkways Recordings
Hanukkah officially began at sundown yesterday, so here's our list of Hanukkah music for kids to help celebrate. From klezmer to pop, from traditional tunes to humorous remakes, our list includes one album for each night, plus a bonus CD to wrap up the season.
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Back in the late 70's, years before The Disney Company had their hands on The Muppets, Jim Henson and friends produced a pretty endearing and unforgettable film with an equally endearing soundtrack. All the tunes on The Muppet Movie soundtrack were written by the team of Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams, and included classics like Kermit and Fozzie's jaunty "Movin' Right Along," Miss Piggy's epic "Never Before, Never Again," Kermit and Rowlf's smoky piano tune "I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along," Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem's rowdy "Can You Picture That?" Gonzo's melancholic "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday," and, of course, Kermit's timeless "Rainbow Connection." Search your flea markets and thrift stores for this one, folks, it's a winner!
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Many decades ago, The Seeger Sisters recorded an album's worth of holiday tunes called American Folk Songs for Christmas, comprised of songs their mother Ruth Crawford Seeger had collected and published in her book of the same name. Kindie rock star Elizabeth Mitchell recently expanded the idea and recorded two dozen songs for her latest release, aptly titled The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook. The result sounds only as Mitchell can sound: gentle, moving, ethereal, intimate, joyful.
Image Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways | Brian Selznick
The spookiest, most fun day of the year is almost here! Here's a list of some great Halloween songs for kids, perfect for greeting Trick-or-Treaters at the door or providing background music at your party. Musicians from A (Andrew Gold) to Z (Rob Zombie) join in the fun, with help from Sue Schnitzer and Walt Disney, as well. Boo!
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Kids' musicians and bands routinely cover pop songs on their family music releases. One of the best cover songs ever on a kids' music album has to be Elizabeth Mitchell's version of The Velvet Underground's "What Goes On," recorded for her 2006 CD You Are My Little Bird. Although Lou Reed, composer of "What Goes On," never came ANYWHERE close to the Billboard Top 40 with VU, the recently-deceased rocker had much more success on the pop charts as a solo artist. Thanks for the rockin' tune, Lou, and RIP.
Image Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways
Last year, long-time Dan Zanes musical friend Elena Moon Park utilized her cultural backgrounds to create a unique hybrid of Asian folk and Western Americana on her solo debut Rabbit Days and Dumplings, resulting in one of my favorite kids' music releases of 2012.
Although they originate from several different East Asian cultures, the songs on Rabbit Days and Dumplings fit together well as a single entity, a veritable musical melting pot of old and new, of traditional and modern, of East and West.
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The coolest thing about Lead Belly Sings for Children is that Lead Belly sang to kids as he would any other audience. He included work songs ("Pick a Bale of Cotton"), gospel tunes ("Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"), political songs ("We're in the Same Boat, Brother"), and the blues ("When a Man's a Long Way from Home") in his repertoire for kids, along with familiar songs like "Skip to My Lou," "Sally Walker," and "Blue-Tailed Fly." Lead Belly Sings for Children is historical, powerful, and, above all, fun.
Image Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways
Raffi Cavoukian's 1976 debut kids' music album Singable Songs for the Very Young remains a top seller in the children's music charts almost 40 years after its release, and the secret may be in the sincere simplicity of Raffi's arrangements and performances, giving the album an air of "everyman," that, hey, this guy is singing to us, and I could totally be him!
Our one caveat with Singable Songs for the Very Young is that a few of the songs feature vocal accompaniment by a group of children, something that might put off some listeners. Otherwise, Raffi's debut kids' album is a warm, quiet, celebration of musical fun for the whole family.
Image Courtesy Troubadour