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Learn with Music

Playing with Music at Home: Tips to explore music and connect it to children's learning

10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them: Listening skills, new words, and so much more

 

Featured Artists and Songs

This month we feature three songs from Raffi that celebrate play and connections along with a few songs from our archive that also echo this theme! Be sure to come back each month to hear a new selection of children's music—and don't miss the growing archive of children's songs.

Love Bug

Raffi

 
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About this song: I hope listeners delve into the song and develop their own whimsical notion of what the "love bug spirit" means to them. I’m trying to pose the question, “Where do hugs come from?” Usually it’s parents who say, “You’re a love bug!” to a child.  I heard this story: A mom was putting her son to bed and her son had heard “Love Bug” earlier in the day.  He looked at his mother and said, “Mom, you’re a love bug! 

What I hope children, teachers, and families get from this song:  I hope children think about their own answers to “What do you think this song 'Love Bug' is about?”  “How does it make you feel?” “Might you draw your own love bug? “What would your love bug look like?” They think about their own feelings and about their connections to others. 

Read a Q&A with Raffi about his first album in 12 years, "Love Bug" and what he hopes listeners will take away from his music.

© 2014 Homeland Publishing

Free to Play

Raffi

 
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About this song: “Free to Play” is a song that I think will resonate with both kids and teachers. Children will enjoy hearing about things they recognize and play with (for example there’s a reference to finger puppets.) 

What I hope children, teachers, and families get from this song:  There are many opportunities to ask children open-ended questions and explore the songs on the entire "Love Bug" album.  I see the album as full of breath and depth, and fun for the family on a number of levels. And I think there is much there for educators; there are plenty of opportunities to engage children in social and emotional learning. 

Read a Q&A with Raffi about his first album in 12 years, "Love Bug" and what he hopes listeners will take away from his music.

© 2014 Homeland Publishing

Wind Chimes

Raffi

 
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About this song: The song creates a picture of how our world actually flows in real time, with real world rhythms rather than the hyper-rhythms of the cyber world. It’s another opportunity to just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. 

What I hope children, teachers, and families get from this song: Everything that we do online is happening at such a fast speed.  With a song like “Wind Chimes” children can just listen to the sound of the wind. I think in some ways people will see the mindfulness meditation implicit in this song, while other songs on the album are at times toe-tapping and robust. 

Read a Q&A with Raffi about his first album in 12 years, "Love Bug" and what he hopes listeners will take away from his music.

© 2014 Homeland Publishing

Follow the Leader

Ella Jenkins

 
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About our music: I hope my music allows people to feel that anybody can participate and create their own songs. I grew up hearing a lot of music in my neighborhood. I’d go to the movies (Regal Theater in Chicago ) and was introduced to vaudeville. One of my favorite types of activities I wanted to emulate was tap dancing. I’d go home and try to imitate what I’d heard. My mother added little taps on my shoes so that they’d make the tapping sound. I didn’t study music formally.  I love poetry, and I remember reading Langston Hughes’ poems “Living is hard, dying is mean, so you better get a little loving in between. “ I just liked the sound of that.

Music was just something that became a part of me. I even tried to imitate Bing Crosby. I grew up making music informally, starting by imitating sounds that I liked. I hope children aren’t too self conscious about their voices. Imitation can lead to creation.

About this song:  “Follow the Leader” is pretty simple, voice and ukulele. 

As a child, I remember all sorts of “follow the leader” songs to sing and play along with. Songs like this is are a good way to encourage children to listen and to remember things. When they’re listening, and when they learn the song, rhythm or rhyme, they create their own songs. Each child has the chance to become the leader of the next part of the song. As children get older, they might introduce more rhythms, rhymes and body movements. The game could go on for a long time.

What I hope children, teachers and families get from this song:  I hope listeners will sing along and try making up their own music, too. When you’re listening to music – on the radio, TV, etc. –  and it’s a melody you enjoy, you’ll try to hum or whistle along. Next, you’ll sing along, and then you might create something of your own. 

Each child wants to be important and to be a leader from time to time, so a song like this allows them to take a leadership role in an easy way. In any class, there are some children who always step up to be leaders. It’s very important for the teacher to help other children have the chance to initiate something.

http://www.folkways.si.edu/explore_folkways/ella_jenkins.aspx


Monkey See, Monkey Do

Johnette Downing

 
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About our music: Dedicated to cultural exchanges and fostering literacy through her music, books, and programs, Johnette Downing has performed all around the world. Johnette’s presentations celebrate childhood and speak to a child’s interests in an engaging, interactive, thought-provoking, educational, entertaining and culturally respectful way.

About this song: I continually strive to write and perform engaging, child-centered, thought-provoking, entertaining, and educational music that respects the sophistication and intelligence of  children. My greatest musical influences come from being born in Louisiana, the birthplace of Dixieland jazz, jazz, Cajun, Creole and zydeco music. These rich musical influences, along with Afro-Caribbean rhythms, inspire my songwriting. The underlying music for “Monkey See, Monkey Do” has a Caribbean feel, and the lyrics invite children into the world of “pretend” as they swing and sway with joyful monkeys in the trees.  

 
What I hope children, teachers and families get from this song: Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my parents, my siblings, and me in the French Quarter listening to Dixieland jazz. I want to share music with children the way my parents shared it with me at such a young age. I perform music for children to make children laugh and think, to share my musical culture, and to give children a reason to celebrate being children. 
 
© 2000 Johnette Downing, All rights reserved.
Love Is Love

The Not-Its!

 
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About our music: The Not-Its! are a rock band for kids, and we are all parents as well as musicians. We are releasing our fifth album this summer. We are a part of the "kindie rock" phenomenon, a national movement of quality independent music for children.
 
About this song: Our song, "Love Is Love," focuses on the whole family.  The song was inspired by girl named Sophia who wrote to President Obama, "If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other and the kids at school teased you about it what would you do?" Obama responded, "In America no two families look the same. And we celebrate this diversity. Whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another. You are very fortunate to have two parents that care very deeply for you. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your classmates of this rule when they say something to you that hurts your feelings." So, "Love Is Love" is dedicated to families of every stripe.
 
What I hope children, teachers and families get from this song: We hope children, teachers and families experience the spirit of joy, inclusion, and hope that inspired this song.
 
© The Not-Its!