It’s Not All Mary Poppins

MotherTalk reviews: That Baby stuff

Packages are always very exciting.

“What’s in there, Mary? You gots a present?”

“Not a present, exactly. Some people sent me this” … I hold up a DVD… “and this…” a CD… “so that we can listen to them, and tell them what we think of it.”

“It’s music??

Music is good around here. We listen to music a lot, and we do not keep it to kidstuff. The kids are as likely to be groovin’ to Etta James as to Raffi, and though they’ve heard a fair amount of Haydn and Mozart here, the air in Mary’s house has never been polluted by the Wiggles. Blues, jazz, classical, folk, classic rock, alternative, even the occasional country and what my husband calls “head-banger” music. Depends on Mary’s mood, depends on the children.

Music is a tremendous mood-setter. If you want them calming down for a nap, you’ll choose chamber music over rowdy blues. You have a little energy to burn on a rainy day? Crank those blues and let the babies bop to Stevie Ray!

So, TWO music disks in ONE package? Someone DID send us a present!

Now, we have a slight problem. Mary does not own a television. Well, okay, technically I do. One. It has a 14-inch screen, and it’s in the attic. I watch it perhaps twice a year; the daycare tots never do.

Mary, however, does own a laptop!

And this is what happened when the DVD was on: children clustered around a screen, pointing and talking. Now, had I placed it so there was a larger open space in front of the screen, perhaps we’d have seen more movin’ and groovin’, I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, the DVD was the scene of much pointing and talking rather than bouncing and bopping.

Which is just fine, because the talk was some entertaining.

“Hey! There is George!” Nigel identifies his tow-headed older brother in one of the six-year-olds on the screen.
“And that is my MOMMY!” Malli offers, as an 8-year-old girl dances to “Brass in Pocket”.
“Lookit! Lookit, is ME!” Blond-haired, grey-eyed Anna is thrilled to see herself on the screen — in the form of a very cute little black boy just about her age.

Though this is very cute, I confess I prefer the effect of the CD on them. Deprived of the visuals, they don’t cluster and point, they dance. They whirl, they jump, they shriek with laughter. Much better.

There isn’t a song on the disks they don’t like. Me, I’m not fond of “Anything is Possible”. Far too preachy-earnest for my tastes, but the tots, they don’t care.

My favourite is probably the first: the “Happiness Runs/Circle Game” medley, in part because I like Joni Mitchell, and in part because I did enjoy the visuals on the DVD.

I found “Brass in Pocket” a little disconcerting at first, particularly the DVD version. I remember when this song was Top-40, and to my mind, it’s about sex. “Gonna use my arms, gonna use my legs…” And to see little children of 6 or 7 years olds mouthing those words was a bit unsettling. I didn’t like the way the first little girl danced, either.

After I watched it a couple of times, though, I changed my mind. The words, when sung through the minds and mouths of small children, are in fact perfectly all right for small children. They won’t be hearing any innuendo there: after all, kids do use their arms and legs … and smiles and laughter and play and teasing and mischief and whatever it takes … to get “some attention, attention, attention, give it to me!” What kid doesn’t want attention? Seen from that perspective, it’s a cute track.

I’m not raving about the disks. They’re nice. They have an interesting, eclectic mix of songs by a disparate range of writers. Would I have bought them myself, had they not been provided for the purposes of review?

Likely not. But then, I am cheap poor cheap. However, if you’re interested, enter the coupon code “MotherTalk” when purchasing and save 20% on your entire order! From now until May 18th, all orders using the coupon code “MotherTalk” will be entered in a drawing to win a new iPod nano. So there’s that.

May 7, 2008 - Posted by | music


  1. There was next to no “kid music” to speak of in my house when my son was little. He got exposed to Raffi in preschool, but at home he was listening to a pretty wide variety of music. And my stepkids are pretty much beyond the kiddie stuff now (thank heavens).

    Do the CD and DVD include original versions of the songs, or cover versions that have been recorded in more “kid-friendly” arrangements? If it’s the latter, I’d probably try to download the originals and make my own CDs.

    They’re covers. Well done, in fact: I’d not be averse to hearing other stuff done by the … um… reaching for the disk … “The Schneiderman Sisters and Friends”. (I don’t know if the “and friends” is part of the group’s name, or if they’re just … friends who joined in for the purposes of this recording.)

    Comment by Florinda | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. When my son was young we couldn’t afford “his and hers” music as it were. We listened to the radio a lot and when I did have extra money for a CD (back then they were still the latest in entertainment technology) I didn’t see the point of buying an album he would soon lose interest in.

    And as you are well aware I’m sure, a toddler will just as happily groove to Billy Joel or The Cars as they will to Raffi.

    “His and hers”. I like that. We do have children’s music in with the piles of other music, and some of it is perfectly good listening to adults, too. Those are the kinds you want around the house! I just don’t think that should be all they listen to! And I do love watching the tots groove to Billy Joel, or Etta James, Miles Davis, or Beethoven…

    Comment by Zayna | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. I LOVE kid music. My favorites, Red Grammer, Ella Jenkins, Tim Noah, Jack Johnson, Tom Hunter and Bev Boss. We also love a little ‘Squirrel Nut Zippers’, Beatles, Mozart, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky along with some African and Mexican tunes….But kid music can be just as hypnotic. Tom Hunter and Bev Boss sing the old songs that my grandma used to sing. Songs that should be remembered. Sometimes I am caught listening to them when there are no kids present. I know….

    Oh, I have kid music. I’ve had kid music in the house for over twenty years, from when my first child was born. Kid music is good because it’s within the range of their vocal abilities (or it should be) — and I love getting kids to SING. Older music is too complicated, and often sung in a way you don’t want children emulating (hard on the vocal cords).

    However, since it’s been over twenty years that I’ve had children milling about, I need more range than that! Besides, I don’t think that’s the only music a child should be exposed to. Because if you don’t give them some range when they’re little, they’re unlikely to want to listen to it when their friends are all telling them your stuff is uncool…

    Comment by annie | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. We have a few cds for Jeffrey in the car and he knows now that he can ask for them and maybe be allowed to listen. I must admit the my ears may bleed if I listen to I’ve been workin on the railroad one more time. Of course if you don’t play it, he sings it anyway and I can listen to that version forever. 🙂
    The most interesting part of your post however is that you don’t have a tv. While I realize by reading your posts that they tots are definitly not sitting around in front of a television I didn’t realize that there isn’t even one around. While I hven’t yet exposed Jeffrey to the tv, I must admit my love for movies and shows requires that there be one in my living room. It just never turns on until after 8.

    Comment by Dani | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  5. sigh….

    Comment by annie | May 13, 2008 | Reply

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