Ugh. McDonalds. My husband, our preschooler, and I just finished a road trip from Park City, Utah, where we were attending a music festival. While having time together was fun, the drive there was, let’s just say, meager in terms of food options.
However, no matter what highway you take, you can always see those golden arches. And those golden arches know how to get you to stop at their franchises by having indoor playgrounds. This may not sound like much, but when you are driving hundreds of miles through the Nevada desert such attractions are a heralded oasis for a family with young ones stuck in a car for far too long. Even those of us that buy organic religiously can be caught sneaking in a Big Mac as our rug rats climb the walls, hopefully wearing themselves out enough to take a nap as soon as they’re back in the car.
So what does this have to do with writing music for kids? Well, McDonalds knows that if you get the kids interested in your product they will stay with you virtually all of their lives. Just think if we could pull that off with new music.
The alternative rock group They Might Be Giants figured out a way to get kids into their music and also draw a larger audience base. They put out a really great CD called Here Come the ABCs. On it are tracks with hip songs about the alphabet, songs that both adults and kids would enjoy if given the chance. Well, it is a hit. But how did it get there? First, the band’s loyal fan base, old enough to have young kids of their own, found the CD and passed the word around about it. Then, the teacher scene got a sniff and…poof! Now every preschool I know of has a copy. Indeed, it is not just rock aficionados that are buying this little gem for their tots. We found out about it from a top conductor and his wife.
So, back to us. How can we find some way of having new music stick to kids in such a fashion so they never shake it off? Can we recontextualize microtonal music into an adventure for elementary schoolers? Are we able to make electronic music par for the course in middle school music classes? And how do we do it in such a way as to make a lasting effect? How can we utilize fast food tactics and re-tool them to work for the better good: that of creating interest in quality music for children to both hear and play?