Something I’ve noticed getting older is how many of my favorite musicians growing up have found a new home in children’s music. Well, maybe home isn’t the right word, but they’ve forayed into that corner of the music world for various reasons.
A lot of my favorite artists who are doing this are those I grew up with — those that taught me about grabbing the world by the horns, coming up with my own thoughts and beliefs, and questioning authority. They haven’t discontinued their projects to sound differently, of course, but a plethora of side projects seem to have come out of newer times in their lives. With so many of them making this transition, or at least trying it out, I have to at least wonder if I’m missing something. Or will I become like them?
From what I can tell, there are a few main reasons established musical artists become childrens’ artists.
- They Have Children
This is the biggest reason I’ve seen musicians getting into children’s music. It often starts when musicians have children. Maybe their children don’t like their music, or maybe they just want to use their talents to share something with their children. But ultimately it becomes an experience for children to share with their parents, and vice versa. If music is how emotions like anger, sadness, and the like are expressed, then it’s certainly how love can be expressed as well.
- The Challenge of Simplicity
There’s a simplicity and basicness to writing children’s music that you may not find in other forms of “adult” music. For instance, you don’t often tackle political topics with children’s music, or heartbreak, or even complicated emotional issues. And children’s music is less about technicality and more about giving the young listeners something to sing along to. Because many professional musicians are proficiently experienced, children’s music calls for discipline. It can become a challenge not to overcomplicate a song. But since the purpose of the song is different, the way the song is played is also different. So writing an actual good song for children can be a struggle, since it requires putting away much of what writing a song entails. It’s a new ballgame altogether!
- Social Service
Music is known to be therapeutic and used in enrichment programs for children. Some people simply do not have kids, and some people do not want them. Others wish they could but for medical reasons are unable. In these cases they still find it important to help the next generation through their music. Most of us had the experience growing up of learning things through memorizing songs. I personally had a tiny tape player that I would play children’s tapes on, and I learned a lot from it about colors, spelling, and other essential life skills and knowledge at a young age.
- The Community Around Them
I take it that a lot of musicians dabble in children’s music because their friends are. The children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba is a perfect example of this, where musical guests from Sugar Ray to Taking Back Sunday have been featured; the creators of the show are musicians, and have simply asked their friends to be a part of the television show, as well as the tours. There are other musical projects with similar stories, where one musician invited their friends into their children’s projects, and more have spawned off from it. Children’s music, in some ways, has become a community movement.
Why did you get into children’s music? Now that I understand more about it, I’d love to hear about it. Let me know via Twitter @Robolitious. Thanks!