Every Kind of Music Can Be Children’s Music!

By “Uncle Devin” Walker

The following is from Uncle Devin’s blog.  We’re so excited that Devin is a business sponsor of CMN!

Uncle Devin lights up a room with his percussion playing!

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.

 

5 comments

  1. Welcome to CMN, Uncle Devin! We represent a wide range of styles – I hope you find it exciting and stimulating!
    Carole

  2. I absolutely agree! (Even though I am one of the acoustic guitar players who sings and tells stories:-) If we are singing the kind of music that we love best and loving the kids that we are singing with, that is what communicates.
    Welcome to CMN Uncle Devin. Looking forward to meeting you.

    Joanie Calem

  3. I agree! While I am a guitar playing folksinger, I include a wide range of music in my programs, oftentimes without guitar accompaniment. I also note that many of today’s “children’s” songs and play-party games were once songs and games for adults and teens. Thanks for a well-written declaration about children’s music. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  4. Thank you for the great article, Uncle Devin! (I bet you are younger than me, Uncle!) i love your ending statement, “Children’s music is love,” we often say that in our Music Together classes, “It’s all about love!” I agree about musical styles, expose children to as many musical styles as you can get your hands on from the library collection, live concerts, etc. My kids are now all over 16, but when they were little I brought home Putamayo collections, Reggae for Kids, classical, jazz, whatever I could find that would expand their musical horizons. I play folk instruments like banjo and guitar for children, but as I begin to write songs i am trying to bring in percussive styles because children LOVE rhythm and music they can move to. I also purchased an electric guitar during my midlife crisis… too bad the thing is so darn heavy!! Guess I can’t escape my age (but at least i can tell the 20 somethings, “You have all the good gadgets, but we have all the good songs!”). Hope to meet you at a CMN event sometime!

  5. Thanks everyone for your responses and your welcomes. Miss Carole: I have already learned so much from CMN, especially through the comments in the Yahoo group and the CMN Newsletter. Can’t wait to learn more.

    Joanie: thanks for the welcome and I look forward to meeting you soon also. I love the acoustic guitar. When I originally wrote the article, I wrote it to a group within the African-American community who thought that children’s music was only music through the acoustic guitar. I was hoping to educate them on how inclusive children’s music is to all genres. They just didn’t know.

    Anna: I recently began performing the Ella Fitzgerald’s arrangement of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in my show and it is a huge hit with both the children and adults. Very jazzy with a Latin rhythm. I love using songs from the past and giving them new life to a new generation.

    Amy: I look forward to hearing your music on the banjo and guitar. Also, I understand about the heavy guitar. In fact, I don’t use a real drum set for my show because they too are heavy and burdensome to carry around. I use two drum pads, along with a host of percussion instruments. It’s not about getting old, but getting wiser 🙂

    I hope to meet each of you soon also. Send me a link to where I can purchase/listen to your music. Can’t wait to check it out. – Uncle Devin

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