I am a HUGE fan of kids’ music, and have been collecting it for many many years…since long before I had children of my own. (I was a preschool teachr in my former life). There’s an unending supply of children’s music available nowadays, but surprisingly, only a small percentage is actually good.
To help families navigate through the mountain of kids’ music out there, I post reviews for the albums that I think are the most worth purchasing, using the following philosophy which comes entirely from me…
Good children’s songs (to me) must have at least some of these, but not all:
- Catchy tune–this is a MUST. If the tune is boring, the whole song is.
- Minimal lyrics–too many songs have toooooo many lyrics. Kids cannot learn the song if you’ve got a whole detailed story in there with very few repeating lines. The simpler the better. Raffi’s singable songs are a great example of what I mean. Either very few lyrics or lots of repeating lyrics. The faster you can learn them, the more likely the kids will pick them up and enjoy singing them. The only exception to the minimal lyrics rule, for me, is a story-song. These have captivating stories to listen to…but they make up for the the long lyrics by having an interactive, catchy chorus the kids can easily join in on. Steve Weeks’ alphabet songs are a prime example of this.
- Repeating lyrics–same idea as minimal lyrics…it just makes learning the song that much easier. Plus kids love repetition!
- Singable A cappella (without accompaniment)–if you can sing it without the cd playing…you’ve got a great kids’ song. You need to be able to sing the song in the bathtub, car, outside, wherever you are!
- Movement inducing (dance or detailed actions)–if its not a song that lends itself to a cappella singing…it better be one that makes you dance or move! Greg & Steve are great for music & movement music. The songs should make you wanna boogie and/or tell you how to move your body.
Things that are NOT necessary for good children’s music:
- Performer with fantastic singing voice–honestly, its not really necessary. Now of course, a “bad” singing voice on an album to be purchased by others, not good…but I mean an average singing voice on an album that has fantastic songs and music is just fine, in my opinion.
- Songs that teach a lesson–that’s great if you find some that educate while singing, but its just not necessary. Fun, silly, nonsense songs are just as good for kids.
- Songs that have fancy background accompaniment–oh these can be fun in some cases, when not overdone…but really, not necessary…in fact, the songs that are fancier recordings tend to be songs that are not so easy to remember the lyrics when you don’t have the cd playing. So they better be full of fun movements! Actually, a few of my favorite children’s music cds have no background music at all, or just accoustic guitar.
- Performers that are well-known and highly acclaimed– some of the music you will see me review is by people that you probably haven’t heard of…I have found some real gems in the children’s music industry that just are not huge successes (but should be!)