The Children's Music Network celebrates the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas and creating community. Here you will find songs and ideas on children's music, to inspire each other about the empowering ways adults and young people can communicate via music, and to be a positive catalyst for education and community-building through music.
January has been a busy month for the Children’s Music Network. We began the year with lots of excitement and several new projects to engage and delight our community. Participants in our new online book club have been having thoughtful discussions about Robin Diangelo’s book White Fragility. We are up and running with our brand new Speakers Bureau. Our PIO writers and editors are gearing up for our spring issue. Our fundraising team is preparing for the spring campaign and is searching for the 2019 theme song. Regional events in Washington DC and Chicago and Boston and New York and San Francisco are all in various planning stages. Likewise, preparations are in the works for the big event: We have announced, Nancy Schimmel, to be our 2019 Magic Penny Award Winner. We have had lots of great nominations for our Keynote speaker and the call for leading workshops is open to all.
And for those who look for day to day contact with the CMN community there has been lots of great activity on the forum with requests for songs, conversations of our daily endeavors, and news of our collective successes.
Now that we are one day into the new month (almost two by the time I publish) I look back at January and get excited about all that CMN has to offer. I am also quite proud of our newest project:
This new board initiative has a committee of five leading the charge with Matt Fernald at the helm and support of other board members, Alina Celeste and Amy Conley. Dana Cohenour is our non-board representative and I help round out this group. Together we have an ambitious goal of organizing songs in a wide variety of categories on our YouTube Channel with the goal of making it easy for educators to find the songs they are interested in using. To get the ball rolling we selected the topics of Transportation, Winter, Fingerplays, and Gender. Our members at large suggested videos and we were off and running
With four great playlists under our belt, we are actively curating more. On our community forum we have put out a call for (1) songs about sound, (2)”Hello” songs, and (3) songs for Earth Day. In addition we have had robust conversations about other topics on the online forum which will help us generate even more playlists in the near future.
So what do you think about the featured image for this blog? Does it make you think of Transportation and Winter? Would you believe that the skiier was singing “The Finger Family?” on his / her way down the mountain?
Share your thoughts and comments about the CMN blog. It’s great to hear from you all.
Tim Seston is 2019 Co-President of the Board and CMN Blog Editor.
As a teacher, I am often asked to sing songs that will complement a particular theme. So for this Tuneful Tuesday, I have an approach that took a little digging. Instead of posting just one song, I’m going to share links to many that fall under the same category.
? ? ? ? ? ? What category should I choose ? ? ? ? ? ?
When I first began my career as a family entertainer, I was writing lots of my own material. To build my library, I wrote about children. I wrote about imagination. I wrote about what was familiar to me. To compliment my original stories and songs, I played the traditional favorites: ABCs, If You’re Happy and You Know It, The Wheels on the Bus, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Old MacDonald, Bingo, etc. To further my repertoire, I turned to the book curated by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood – Rise Up Singing. There I found categories that were sure to be welcomed by young audiences: friendship, love, peace, and play. Songs about freedom, struggle, faith, and many others would find their way into my classrooms as well.
I am now in mid-career and though I continue to write, I am more interested in all the talent and energy of both my predecessors and my contemporaries. Annie and Peter have released their second anthology, Rise Again and it is fun to count friends within those pages. My CD library has grown by attending conferences and networking with peers. The volume of songs I can learn from YouTube and Spotify grows exponentially. I can post online that I am looking for songs about any topic and within a few days the floodgates open with new music to be listened to and learned.
Let’s try it out:
First I need a topic – OK, how about . . .
I’ll need a picture to headline the blog entry. I’ve got one of me with my dog, Casey.
Next, I’ll send a quick email to the CMN Forum:
Subject: [cmn_forum] Animal songs? CMN Blog
What are your favorite songs about bears?
What are your favorite songs about dogs?
What are your favorite songs about cats?
What are your favorite hippopatamus songs?
What are your favorite animal zipper songs?
What other animals should I highlight?
Stuffed animals are perfect for winter gigs and winter classrooms. OK Go . . .
Now I’ll just sit back and wait for responses – here they come from around the country.
Alice Burba, Barry Louis Polisar, Bonnie Lockhart, David Heitler-Klevans, John Keenan, Katherine Dines, Liz Buchanan, Lucas Miller, Pam Donkin, Peter Apel, Sammie Haynes
Songs come in all formats and in all kinds of styles. Here’s a sample (in alphabetical order):
It is fun to go through the variety and find a few new songs that resonate with me to bring to the classroom. It’s also fun just to sit back and listen to the creativity of others who are writing and playing songs for children. I’m looking forward to more blog entries like this in 2019. Please let me know what you think?
I didn’t happen to get any hippopotamus submissions so I’ll leave you with this version of The Hippopotamus Song sung by John Lithgow on his children’s album “Singing in the Bathtub” Incidentally, the lyrics and chords can be found in “Rise Up Singing”.
As an organization CMN is working on building YouTube playlists so that we can be a useful resource for teachers to search for and learn new songs that they can use in conjunction with the themes of their own classrooms. We have decided to start with these four themes and will be adding others in the near future. Winter, Transportation, Gender, and Finger Plays. If you are a CMN member you can get a preview of the great suggestions on our online Forum.
Singing has been part of my life since I was a child. My family sung in the car, in the kitchen, at bedtime, and everywhere else in between. The songs we sang were stories – at least these were the favorites that we requested and have been etched into my memory. The melodies were simple enough and the chorus were catchy. However, it was the surprises that popped up in the verses that grabbed my attention and caught hold of my emotions time and again. Some of these songs have made it into the main stream, some can be found with a bit of searching, and some might be lost if not kept alive in the small gatherings that I am so fond of attending.
Take for instance The Fox – This song has been around for a while. A quick Wikipedia shares various artists who began recording it back in the 1950s
Go ahead and search these artists on YouTube – You’ll find some fun and very different versions of this classic song.
Some schools and some families have a hard time with teaching their children about some subjects but I find that singing about what happens when a fox enters the chicken coup is OK. But then again I also enjoy some of the darker themes in a children’s song as long as it is done with humor. I like to sing Dunderbeck with my children. Click on the link to hear Tom Glazer and the Do Re Mi Children’s Chorus sing about what happens to this unfortunate inventor.
Was the unfortunate ending a requirement for songs that were written in the past? I’m not sure. Here’s another that I have enjoyed singing from my youth. I could only find a discussion started in 1999 about the Whiz Fish. It’s fun to read what others know of this song. So you can enjoy it as well, I decided to get out my guitar and share my version with you.
Whiz Fish sung by Tim Seston - YouTube
It is no accident that as an adult I have searched for others who like to sing as well. Over the years I’ve attended many local song swaps and other small gatherings with other members of the Children’s Music Network. It is at these small events that I learn the most songs and have the best time. Here, our members and guests share traditional and original songs that I can take back to my classroom and share with others. I live in the New England region where small events happen on a regular basis..
The same is true in the New York Metro, Midwest, and Northern California regions.
Elephants Have Wrinkles - The Children's Music Network - YouTube
The most prolific region in recent years has been the Mid-Atlantic with pool parties, benefit concerts, and collaborative events at local libraries.
Other regions have smaller memberships but we are hoping that this can change with more of us willing to host events. I hope you will click through all of our regional pages to learn more about CMN, find an event near you, or search for ideas to host your own event.
2019 is the year to encourage our friends, families, and fellow children’s music enthusiasts to come and join the fun. What songs would you like to share? I would be pleased to share your YouTube links and or help you write a blog about the songs you are singing in your local area. Hope you have a great time at a small gathering near you – send pictures.
Photos and videos in this article were shared by CMN members
This entry was written by CMN Blog editor Tim Seston
Charlie’s favorite stuffed animal was a bear. It could have been the lion that was given to him in the hospital when he was born. It could have been a stuffed frog – he was given two of the exact same kind. It could have been any number of soft and cuddly creatures; but, Charlie was enamored with the classic bear. So when my friends Karyn and Perry visited Charlie for the first time and gave him a collection of Barefoot Board Books, they found a prominent place next to Charlie’s crib. We loved “Bear in a Square”, “Bear about Town”, “Bear in Sunshine”, and “Bear at Home”, but the all time favorite was “Bear on a Bike”.
Fast forward. I have now been writing and performing my songs and stories for a few years. Chilly Little Charlie, his bedtime routine, and his bear have become a favorite and a staple for all ages at my shows. I’m enjoying this new career. Then, the Barefoot Books flagship store moves from their corporate offices in Cambridge, MA to a shop just down the street where I live in Concord, MA. I bring my boys for story time; I browse the bookshelfs; I am invited to perform; I am a fan. Barefoot Books has a great business model and I become an Ambassador – bookseller for a short time. My sister is working for a child development research lab and buys books as gifts for children who are part of the studies. My pre-school holds a fundraiser and soon the signature color scheme of Barefoot lines their shelves. My inventory grows as well and I enjoy being part of this company. But what I really enjoy is singing and sharing stories with the children. So I hang up the book business and focus on my craft.
Fast forward a few more years. Barefoot Books continues to be part of my life. My repertoire increases with songs like Animal Boogie, We All Go Traveling By, and Portside Pirates. But my favorites are the slightly more complex like Up, Up, Up!, Creep Crawly Calypso and Magic Train Ride. Sometimes, I sing with a teacher or assistant turning the books page by page; sometimes we put the books away and have a dance party; sometimes we make up our own verses and explore new fantastic places.
Let’s keep this story on fast forward. A few years ago, I am introduced to Janet Stephens. I learn from a CMN post on Facebook that Janet is a Barefoot Ambassador. She also owns and operates Bear Paw Creek “Bear Paw Creek is a company that equips teachers, therapists, and parents as they seek to enrich the lives of others through music and motion. We understand the importance of music and movement for developing healthy minds and bodies of all ages. Music stimulates both sides of the brain, lifts our spirits and makes tedious activities seem fun. Incorporating motion with music brings along all the excellent physical and emotional benefits of exercise, strengthening our muscles and improving coordination. ”
Janet and the Children’s Music Network are a perfect fit. She becomes a member, is a business sponsor, and contributes to our blog. Now Janet is running a CMN special. Buy any Barefoot Book through Janet and CMN receives 10%. It is a win – win for all. Shop Here or join Janet’s Facebook Event Page.
So, thanks for Bearing with Me. Barefoot Books has closed all its physical stores but continues to produce wonderful books. I’m glad I have been part of their story. I’m also glad I can help promote the people and products that are important to the work that we all do with children.
Oh wait . . . one more thing . . . Do you have any songs that you want to share? Preschools and elementary schools all over the world have pajama parties all winter long. Children love bringing their favorite stuffed animals to school. What was your favorite stuffed animal? What songs can you think of that children might enjoy at a pajama party? Share your thoughts and comments.
School get’s out tomorrow for Thanksgiving Break and we are headed to my sister-in-law’s mountain home for our annual multigenerational and multiple family gathering. Outside we’ll make snowforts and snowmen and snow angels. Inside by the fire, we’ll do puzzles, play games, and sing. We’ll cook food and be crafty. There is certain to be something unexpected. Along the way we’ll make memories together as a family.
On social media people are starting their preparations. Today’s cover photo comes courtesy of CMN member, Fran McKinney as she gets “a head start on the annual coffee cake tradition.” Her post reminds me of a few of the songs that I have recently heard from other CMN members. There are also some classics from artists like Bobby Bare and Charley Pride. Then at the end there is a brand new video just released yesterday from The Okee Dokee Brothers. These are songs that express some of the simple pleasures of life that can happen year round, but happen with more frequency at this time of year.
The first two are songs by Bruce O’Brien
“Owl Moon” has become one of my favorites since joining CMN. Bruce sang it at the gathering this year in Sandusky, OH as the room full of enthusiastic singers joined in on the harmonies.
Owl Moon- Bruce O'Brien - YouTube
“Made by Hand.” In the jacket from his 1995 CD “Love is in the Middle” Bruce reminds us that it “Wasn’t long ago, everything was made by hand.”
In this entry there’s mention of a similar song by Ruth Pelham. I think it must be the song I recently heard on Sarah Goslee Reed’s 2009 CD Songfest. I recently heard Sarah’s CD on the return drive home from CMN’s annual gathering last month. “Four Hands” is about the creative joy when grandparents and grandchildren get together. I can picture my own children and their grandparents as I listen to the verses.
Four Hands - YouTube
Also in 2009, Fran Friedman, released her album – Big Blue Sky. On the same ride home I was listening to Fran’s version of Linda McCargar Alvarez’s In My Family’s House – an adapted song of the Carter Family’s “In my Father’s House.” What I like about this song is that you can zip in any fond memory from your own family’s house and keep the song going and going and going. Just learn the template and your off.
In My Family's House - YouTube
Then there is Two of a Kind’s song “Family Harmony” from their 2012 CD – “Tell Me a Story” In this song David Heitler-Klevans takes us through generations of music and the joy it brings while singing together. In the 2014 YouTube we can hear the traditions – Live in Concert with David, Jenny, and their twin sons, Jason and Ari.
Two of a Kind: Family Harmony (DVD version) - YouTube
Family gatherings are also a time where we celebrate and take pride in our collective humanity. At the 2018 Magic Penny Award Ceremony for Kim and Reggie Harris, Stuart Stotts assembled a small chorus from our CMN family to celebrate these two influential song writers / performers. Stuart’s song (Building up a) Brick a Day tells the story of the Brick a Day church. Learn more from Stuart Stott’s Blog.
In homes all over the country this week there will be people “All Together Singing in the Kitchen”. Here’s a throwback from Bobby Bare singing the poem by Shel Silverstein.
Bobby Bare and family - Singin' in the Kitchen - YouTube
Likewise, there will be thoughts, and stories, and memories of loved ones who have passed away. Here is Charley Pride’s “Where Do I Put Her Memory”
Charley Pride -- Where Do I Put Her Memory - YouTube
Finally, there will be plenty of laughter and fun. With that I’ll end with new video “Keep Me Warm” from the Okee Dokee Brothers. “From our 2018 album, Winterland. A voyage from autumn to spring, Winterland presents secular winter music the entire family can enjoy while cozying up around the fire.”
“I found _(5)_ pancakes here on my plate. I’ll eat just one I might be late. I’ll grab my _(hat)_ run out the door.
But wait . . . there’s still _(4)_ pancakes more.”
I love singing in my preschool classroom in November. As the children gear up for the holidays, food is on their brains and there are endless resources on this subject. I can pull out Eric Carle’s book “Today is Monday” and have the children mimic the motions of the different animals eating the different foods. Or as I found in fellow CMN member Liz Buchanan’s video, I can change the words with some alliteration.
Today is Monday - YouTube
I can sing Aiken Drum. The first time I do it I choose to make this man in the moon just out of fruits. The head is made of a pineapple, the eyes are strawberries, the nose is a lime, the mouth is an apple slice, the hair is made of raspberries, the ears are peaches, the body is a watermellon, the legs are cantelope, the feet are kiwis, the arms are grapefruit, and the hands are oranges. The next week, I change it up and show the children that Aiken Drum can change his appearance. This is when the song gets really fun. The lead teacher in one of my 4-5 year old classes loves to draw. As the children each take a turn choosing a fruit, the teacher has her easel and markers available and draws Aiken Drum while we sing. There is always room somewhere on a wall to post the various creations each week.
Editor’s Note: Is there someone in our readership who has made a video of Aiken Drum – I’d love to update this post with a link to your YouTube Channel? Until then – there are many versions out there. Go and search.
I love singing “On Top of Spaghetti”. It is one of those stories that has certainly stood up to the test of time. Children love the sneezing, they love the imagery, they love ridiculousness of the tree growing “great big meatballs with tomato sauce”, and they love to sing along to the tune. Check out this video of Little Richard singing the classic song.
Young Zaina Juliette with Little Richard, Disney, On Top Of Speghetti - YouTube
I can sing “It Ain’t Going To Rain No More” or as the kids like to call it: “The Peanut on the Railroad Track” Song
“Oh a peanut sat on a railroad track, it’s heart was all a flutter”
(hold a note and pat your chest to make the fluttering sound)
“When along came a passenger train – toot toot – and there was peanut butter.”
Substituting different foods and having a new motion i the fun part. Over the years, here are my favorite verses:
Lemon – it was really afraid (kids give me their scared looks) – Lemonade
Potato – doing flips (kids roll arms and make whooping sounds) – Potato Chips
More Potatoes – to there big surprise (surprise looks) – French Fries
Oranges – feeling loose (kids wiggle) – Orange Juice
Peach and a Pear and a Watermelon singing a very pretty ballad (kids sing la la la la la) – Fruit Salad
Editor’s Note: Is there a someone in our readership who has made a video of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” – I’d love to update this post with a link to your YouTube Channel? What other verses have you created?
There are so many more great food songs to sing. Here is a screen shot of page 1 (of 89 pages) of discussions on the topic by CMN members. It can be found in the member section of the web pages that CMN member Dave Orleans has organized and archived over a 17 year period from 1999 -2016. What a great resource for our members.
Well, I’m off to sing about food. Do you want to hear more: Check out my Food Playlist that starts with this pancake song that I recorded for a YouTube video last year. All fall I’ve been packing a soccer bag. Now that it is winter I can start putting on my winter clothes again.
This blog is about all the exciting goings on in the Board Room…or perhaps I should say on the Board Conference calls. We meet every other month via telephone, and at the last one your Board members, (David Heitler-Klevans, Lisa Heintz, Alice Burba, Dennis and Linda Ronberg, Alina Celeste, Amy Conley, Bruce O’Brien, Tim Seston and I) were talking about how excited we get about projects and plans, and that we wanted to share some of that excitement with you and what better way that with a blog. As the main proponent of the idea, I get to go first.
So, first, this writer is very excited about the BOD retreat just prior to this year’s Annual Conference. It will be led by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D, a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University and Founder and Director of the Conciliation Project. You can enjoy her TEDx Talk if you have 7 minutes to spare. In this time of racial strife, I welcome the opportunity to interact with a knowledgeable person who will help our community grow. Dr. T will share her expertise with your Board, and I think it promises to be life-changing.
Second, well, the Conference itself! The Board treasures the once a year face-to-face meeting with all of its songs, humor, and yes, a good bit of planning, but rather than being tiring, this writer finds it refreshing and invigorating.
Third: The Advisory Board, under the leadership of Katherine Dines, and at the suggestion of Liz Buchanan, proposed that we at CMN reach out to KindieComm folks for cross-pollination, as it were. A few weeks ago, Katherine Dines, Jane Arsham, Val Smalkin, and Liz Buchanan held a conference call with KindieComm coordinators Kathy O’Connell and Robert Drake of WXPN. Both sides were very excited about what each has to offer the other. Kathy and Robert reported that KindieComm folks are looking for more opportunities on a local level to network with others interested in music and children, and we at CMN are always interested in expanding our membership. The idea of co-hosting regional events was floated and viewed by all as a complete win/win. We will keep you posted about these developments.
Fourth, and I probably should not admit this, but the picture of Dave Kinnoin’s Chocolate Chip Cookies looms large above my head. Yes, I am obsessively thinking about placing a winning bid on those scarce and sinfully delicious cookies, some w/nuts and some w/o nuts.
Fifth, and you might not believe me, but I get energized by thinking about who might want to join the board next. I love meeting the folks who are doing so much in their local regions, or who step up to bat at the Conference. Their interest and joy are contagious and convince me that CMN has a long AND valuable future in store.
Thank you for your membership, and if you are not already, I encourage you to take part in the Google forum. Someone called it the life blood of our organization. There are always helpful hands and minds standing by with a wealth of experience, learning, and love.
See you in Sandusky (Saw Mill Creek Resort…I just like saying Sandusky)!
This blog was submitted by Board Co-Chair Val Smalkin. Val joined the board in 2016 – the same year she led a conference workshop on sock-puppets in Los Gatos, California. (see above).