Children’s musicians Erin Lee and Marci bring us the next of their regular posts with thematic recommendations for kid-friendly music, plus activities to make the songs an interactive experience for the whole family. Look for Erin Lee and Marci here on the first Monday of each month, or visit their homepage, www.gottaplay.org.
I’ve created links to Amazon for the full albums (click the album image or name), plus links to Amazon MP3 downloads for those who want only the singles. (Click the song name.) —DR
This month’s blog features songs that take place on the playground – that microcosm of society whose mere mention can cause some adults to run and fondly pull out their scrapbook, and some adults to shudder and schedule an appointment with their therapist. Everyone knows that everything that happens on the playground means a lot more than which team won the game! These are all songs from a kid’s point of view that are about something bigger than team sports.
“Right Field” (Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter, Paul & Mommy, Too)
This song has been around for a while, but never, ever loses its relevance. Its protagonist discovers his self worth playing the most miserable position he can imagine on his ball team – Right Field. He’s been put waaaaay out there in right field where his pathetic athletic skills can’t do any damage to the game in progress. Funny, charming and a little bit sad, this song is a gem for kids and adults alike. We can’t say any more without posting a spoiler alert – and we don’t want to ruin the end!
We are on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Music Network and have just returned from their National Conference in Illinois (we’re actually composing this on the plane!) This year Bill Harley was honored with the Magic Penny Award for his lifetime of work in the frontline of the Children’s Music Business. All of his songs feature strong narrators with a solid viewpoint, and they speak directly to kids who are old enough to be questioning the world around them and figuring out their own unique place in it. When he sang this song at the ceremony, we poked each other as it seemed perfect for this column! Its protagonist has had enough with playground politics and stands up for himself and others who are stuck at the fringes of the cool group. There is a father featured in this tune, who encourages his child to speak out for inclusivity and equality:
“My daddy says life’s just not fair,
You’re bound to meet people that just don’t share.
When you meet someone tries to push you around
When you know what’s right, stand your ground!”
“Someone’s Gotta Wanna Play” (Erin Lee & Marci, Someone’s Gotta Wanna Play)
This song was originally created for a theatre class of 3rd Graders who specifically requested “a song that’s easy to sing, but really cool so you can dance to it, and that’s about sports, but about feelings too, in case you don’t like sports”. Well, here it is! The song is ostensibly about baseball, but is also about loneliness and how frustrating it can be to be all ready to do something – then realize that you can’t do it without your friends. As per request, it’s very easy to sing – so put it on loud and sing or echo along!
We want to get kids music off the iPod’s and into daily life, so here are some awesome activities you can tie into this tune:
Make Something New: This song lists all sorts of objects used in a game of baseball. Get some magazines, some scissors and some glue and make baseball game collages!
Write Something New: Play Musical Madlibs! This song is a very simple list of things that comprise a baseball game. What are other sports or activities that need more than one player? What pieces of equipment would you need to play that sport? Make a list, and then rewrite the song about a different game other than baseball. (This in one of our favorite activities – a girl scout troop rewrote this to be about hockey, and some kids on the R Family Cruise rewrote this about playing soccer! If you play Musical Madlibs with this one, send us your results – we’d love to hear your new lyrics!)