I presented at a conference recently for early childhood teachers. I enjoyed my sessions, and I thought that the whole event was well planned and executed. However, I was troubled by several of the keynote sessions. Three different sessions led by musicians involved the presenters talking and then pressing “play” to cue up a song. Immediately, a fully produced backing track filled the room, drums and bass driving the beat. People began clapping along, and at the right moment, the musician came in with the words.
It’s effective as an attention grabber. who can resist the power of percussion and a strong rhythm. I think there’s a place for recordings in working with young children. But I think that as musicians our fundamental message should be “sing with your kids. You don’t need anything fancy to do that.” Otherwise we reinforce the idea that music is for those with advanced skills, or that it relies on production. While it’s true that most of us, including myself, prefer to listen to well-produced music, for singing in EC classrooms, voices are enough, and in fact have significant advantages to learning and development over pressing play on the next CD track.
My song that gets the idea across was inspired by my friend Lou Chicquette, a wonderful educator and passionate singer.