By “Uncle Devin” Walker
If you look at all of the different music genres listed in many of the media players and online music sites, you will find a category called “Children’s Music.” But what exactly is “Children’s Music?” What does it sound like?
Most often in the United States, you will find that the majority of children’s music has been generally confined to folk music, usually played by an acoustic guitarist who also sings or tells stories while performing. In fact, just do a general online search of children’s music and I guarantee that you will find that a large number of artists within this genre are acoustic guitar players.
Let me first say that there are many excellent children’s music artists who are acoustic guitarists and are doing great things in this industry. I buy and support their music regularly. However, children’s music cannot be confined to one particular style of music. Quite simply, children’s music is any music composed and performed for children. But notice that I said it is “any music,” not just “folk music.” This means that any genre of music can be used to create children’s music, including jazz, reggae, classical, rock, Calypso, Bossa Nova, gospel, hip-hop, Go-Go, R&B, country, and the list goes on.
When I first decided to dedicate my art form to children’s music, a good buddy of mine and fellow musician told me not to limit the type of music that I play to the stereotype of what many consider to be children’s music. He said for me not to get trapped into nursery rhymes if that is not my specialty, but instead just be myself and focus on the message that I’m trying to convey. He was correct. What I have come to realize is that the children’s music genre is based upon the level of exposure that parents and guardians give to their children. Once I understood this, it gave me the freedom to simply be me as a drummer and percussionist, and the confidence to believe in what I have to offer the children of the world.
You will find that there is excellent children’s music within every style of music and that if you want your child to have a rich and rewarding childhood, you should expose them to as many musical traditions as possible. From a cultural perspective, we cannot separate the purpose of children’s music from the purpose of music (and the arts) as whole, which is to enhance the moral and material happiness of humanity.
Therefore, children’s music does not have one sound or look. It is universal. So no matter whether you are a country music artist or opera lover, straight-ahead jazz enthusiast or hip-hop fan, keep inspiring the next generation because they are listening. Children’s Music is Love!
Uncle Devin is a percussionist with a family-music band, the Uncle Devin Show. He is based in the Washington, DC area and plays shows around the east coast.