Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs Part I: Midwest & Ontario

Member Brigid Finucane of the Merit School of Music  in Chicago, IL, is a regular contributor to the Pre K and K sharing Blog. She has begun a series highlighting Children’s Musicians and Educators who she has found particularly helpful, many of them are also CMN members! I have re-posted an edited version of it below, see the original here.

Educators who care, share.” This catch phrase from edWeb perfectly encapsulates what we as teachers, parents, wonderers and humans do – share what delights and moves us, and what works.

The internet, YouTubeCD Baby, and Songs for Teaching have brought to our fingertips and ears a cornucopia of offerings, but this abundance of options, oddly enough, can make finding appropriate music for home and classroom even more daunting.

In EC classrooms I visit, I’m struck by the sameness of aural offerings. Near the CD player a few Dr. JeanCDs lurk, and perhaps some Putamayo recordings are piled. One of three clean up songs is playing as I arrive by Kathy Poekler (Put away the toys and trucks! Put away the dolls! Now is the time to clean up!), Shari Sloane (Everybody clean up, clean up, clean up, everybody clean up, clean up now!) or Barney (Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere, Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share…)Don’t get me wrong. While these artists (with the possible exception of the purple dinosaur – depending on your tastes) and the Putamayo label are excellent, and deserve to be part of the EC landscape, they do not at all reflect the work of local regional artists – and therein lies the rub.

Copyright Brigid Finucane


The Farm to Table movement has us eating locally – why aren’t we listening locally?

My intention is address this issue by periodically highlighting music from regions of the U.S. The Midwest will be my starting point, because that’s where I’m from! I will choose only the artists whose work I draw from consistently. Most, but not all, are members of the Children’s Music Network (CMN), which initially brought them to my attention!

My inaugural post is dedicated to artists who:

1) Sing and/or write music specifically for the EC population

2) Have websites with resources, lyrics, and/or a presence on social network(s)

3) Present workshops – so you can experience them personally!

4) Sing/write engaging and developmentally appropriate music that encourages active participation (movement, singing, signing, repetition, fingerplays, etc.)

5) Sing and/or write music that is replicable, open-ended, and encourages independent play, use and exploration

6) Sing and/or write music that works equally well as a stand alone experience, not dependent on a CD or recorded accompaniment

7) Don’t have a national marketing machine working on their behalf, so are not usually represented in Big Box stores.

Caveat A: This list is intended to be a gateway, and is in no ways exhaustive. It’s impossible to feature everyone. To this end, each region will have a Part II with additional singer, site and CD recommendations.

Caveat B: Artists are listed in alphabetical order. An asterick  (*) indicates songs that are traditional, anonymous, or composed by another.

Debbie Carroll (ON) “sings, plays a variety of instruments and hosts Riverview House Concerts.  She has 2 award-winning CDs of children’s music produced by Ken Whiteley – Up and Over the Moon! and Simply Beautiful – as well as a book with CD called The Eensy Weensy Book of Little Fingerplays.

Especially appreciated: Lots and lots of songs. Great variety, many with movement opportunities. Beautiful arrangements! Bonus: On her website, lyrics,  fingerplay directions and movement suggestion immediately following the track listings of each CD. Thank you!

Kiddo favesIt’s a Dancing Day, I’m Sittin’ in a Boat, I Shut the Door, Love is Like Glue,

 *At the Bottom of the Sea, *The Tree Song.

To noteDebbie has reanimated her Debbie Carroll – Children’s MusicFacebook Group. It’s easy to join – just add you name to the “Invite by email” box!

Fran McKinney (WI) “has taught Early Childhood students with learning challenges for over 30 years.  She is the Music Specialist and Consultant at the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum.  Fran has learned the positive effects of linking music and movement to literacy, math, language and social learning to engage all learners.  In the process, she has written songs and created books to enhance early learning.  She provides workshops to share this approach with other teachers throughout the Midwest.” Fran has one CD, We’re Friends All Year Longand five partnerbooks.

Especially Appreciated: Lilting, singable melodies. Themes reflect the life of the young child through family, friendship, food, seasons, shapes and special places (visiting the zoo, farm, and pumpkin patch). Five companion books are available. Lovely orchestration, AND sons Josh and Noah contributed musically to the CD!

Kiddo Faves:
Pumpkin Patch, Triangle Lullaby, Let’s Make Snowmen, At the Zoo, Noah is a Farmer.

To Note: Fran’s music & literacy workshops are engaging, entertaining and edifying, informed by decades of classroom teaching. Seek them out!

Miss Carole/Macaroni Soup – Carole (Peterson) Stephens(IL),  “is a nationally renowned music specialist. Her cross-curricular music and guidance techniques instantly invite all audiences from the youngest child to the oldest adult to join in singing, dancing and rhythmic movement. Miss Carole teaches:  HOW – classroom management techniques that really work! WHY – brain research that supports the active music imperative andWHAT – developmentally appropriate music and movement activities children love!…Miss Carole has been teaching music for children 1 – 6 years old since 1989. Through her company, Macaroni Soup!, she travels across the US presenting concerts for children and families, and workshops for teachers, librarians and parents. Her seven award-winning CD’s are treasured for their usefulness, appropriateness and simplicity.”

Especially Appreciated: Songs are perfectly geared for EC classroom use.  Humor runs throughout. Tracks include not only the song, but  Ms. C’s spoken directions on what to do next – so it’s like she’s with you in the classroom! Though her music is oriented primarily towards the Pre-K crowd, her Turkey Hop magically materialized at a Thanksgiving family gathering and I’ve used her snowball fight as an icebreaker with high school theatre students!

I draw primarily from Ms. C’s  two seasonal CDs for my classroom teaching: H.U.M. – All Year Long* andSeason Sings!                                                                                       

Kiddo Faves: H.U.M (“highly useable music”): I Can Make a Snowman, When It’s Autumn, *Please Pass the Peas, Turkey Hop, Snowflake ,Snowflake.   Season Sings!: Snowman Trio, *Jump in the Puddles.           
                                                                                 
To Note:  Carole’s generous website includes a Song of the Month section that contains lyrics, background, and attached mp3s for each featured song.   
                                                                                                

Kathy Reid-Naiman (ON) “is a full time children’s performer, and a member of Mariposa in the Schools, an organization dedicated to bringing quality musical experiences to school children in Ontario. Her children’s recordings; Tickles & TunesMore Tickles & Tunes, Say Hello to the MorningA Smooth Road to London Town,  On My Way to Dreamland and Reaching For the Starshave become very popular with pre-school teachers and families with toddler’s and young children. She has been teaching classes for young children 6 months to 6 years old and their caregivers since 1982.”                                                

Especially Appreciated: Exquisite choice of traditional and composed material, Chrystalline orchestration makes each CDs a pleasure to listen to, share and carry on. The cover art is lovely as well. Here’s a closer look at Say Hello to the Morning – which will give you a better sense of the scope of her work.   

Kiddo Faves: With twelve CDs and a new fingerplay DVD to her name, and collaboration on more recordings with talented daughter, Hannah, the choices are dizzying. I admit to close familiarity of only eight CDs. Be assured that whichever CD you select, to, you can’t go wrong!

To Note:  Kathy is the owner of Merriweather Records Ltd.,  an exemplary early childhood + label in Canada.Represented artists are great finds.

c Dan Rest 2013

Susan Salidor (IL) “is an award-winning children’s music composer and performer with the heart of a teacher….(She) has also been honored as a songwriter with several ASCAP Popular Awards for songwriting.  Susan’s recordings are recommended in The Best of Everything for Your Baby(Krantz/Exley, Prentice Hall), and her song, “Ruby B.,” appears in the first edition of Ruby Bridges’ autobiographyThrough My Eyes (Scholastic Press). She has also published The Susan Salidor Songbook, a songbook and CD set of original music from her first four recordings.”

Especially Appreciated: I’m a Susan Salidor groupie. There. I’ve said it. Back in the day, my daughter (then a toddler, now a rising college junior) and I followed her about from venue to venue!  Eventually CMN brought us together, and the rest is history. At the heart of her music is a social consciousness conjoined with finely drawn lyrics that delights in the stages of childhood while celebrating humanity. Like the featured artists above, her work is as lovely to listen to as to dance and sing along with. Teachers will especially appreciate her three Come and Make A Circle CDs, but each and every one of her eight CDs is a treasure.

Kiddo FavesPeace in My Fingers, I Love My Sister, First You Take A Seed, You’re A Poet, Hello. Faves to listen to:When I Only Have a Minute, I’m Sorry, Every Little Bit of You.
To Note: “Susan and husband Jay have created dozens of YouTube videos to her songs, but they are most delighted by the hundreds of original videos recorded by fans of Susan’s music that can be found on the internet.” Susan also presents “itty bitty ditties” on her Facebook page. *Check out Around & Around from February 17, 2014.

I hope you enjoy making the acquaintance of these five magical artists. Inclusion of their music will make any classroom a richer and happier place – and gift you and your kiddos with smiles as wide as the heartland. Enjoy!

©2014 Brigid Finucane 

1 comment

  1. I am thrilled to “meet” these awesome folks and so wish I had known about CMN and each of them years ago! But I am delighted to be introduced now, and will explore their resources….I am blown away actually. It’s funny, in my 31 years of teaching, whether in preschool or elementary, I was the only one who sang daily with my kids and was seen as a rare resource. In retirement I finally made my first CD, “Curious Songs for Curious Kids.” Now I “meet” so many who feel and know what I know—the painless delight of teaching social concepts and literacy through song and movement. I can’t wait to really meet you at the conference!

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