Friday, October 17, 2014

Children's Music Review: The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection

Kindie music pioneer, Laurie Berkner, released a new album this week, The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection. When I listened to it for the first time, I immediately recognized her music from the Pandora toddler channel and the movement activity soundtrack from a play group I attend. She has also been featured regularly on Nick Jr., and if you listen to much kids music, it's very likely you've heard her along the way. This new album includes songs from six of her previous albums plus one new song. I did receive free downloads to write this review, but I wouldn't post it here if I didn't think the music was worth your time.

Laurie's music tops the charts when it comes to creative imagery and movement. I'm amazed at the variety of child-centered ideas that come through her music and the way kids grasp and hold on to them. I would never think to write a song like "The Cookie Bakers of the Night" which tells the story of nocturnal bakers who end up with a gingerbread-man-style mutiny on their hands, but Laurie did, and she presents the story in a way that engages children's ears and invites them to move.

Movement is a major way Laurie invites her listeners to connect. "The Airplane Song" will always be a favorite at my house. My son loves pretending to be an airplane, landing, and then getting up to gallop, jump, spin, and dance like the words to the song suggest. "Walk Along the River", "My Energy", "These Are My Glasses", "Running Down The Hill", and "Shake Your Body Down" all give movement instructions in the music, while others invite more open creative movement. I'd like to see an album of all movement songs from Laurie Berkner.

If I have any complaint about this album, it's that, when it comes to really young kids, many of the tempos fall into the category of too slow for dancing, and too fast for sleeping. This isn't music for the toddler who can only bounce. Kids need to have the coordination of a three or four year old to move successfully in time to a lot of this music.

Though the tempos may not be in the toddler pocket, Laurie's vocals are a pleasant listening experience, and the harmonies are gorgeous. Listen to "Goodnight" and "Mahalo" for examples of this. 

As a whole, The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection has a refreshing and authentic commitment to imaginative music that occasionally manifests itself in a little over-the-top weirdness. But hey, this is kids music: it offers no apologies to parents, nor should it. 

Check out Laurie Berkner's Youtube channel here. They currently have a subscription campaign going, so if you enjoy her music, consider subscribing to her channel.

To download tracks or purchase the CD, visit Laurie's album page and select a vendor from the box on the right.

One more fun thing I'd like to add is that Laurie provides the chords to her music on her site, so if you listen to the recordings and follow the guitar tutorials I'll start posting next week, you could play some of this music for your kids.

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