Archive for October, 2010

Beth’s Corner # 6

By: Beth Blenz – Clucas

    Dogs vs. Kids: Child Honouring and Other Good Stuff

 

The response came back again, twice this month, as I pitched family music story ideas to major media contacts. “We’ve already done a story about kids’ music.” The attitude is that once a newspaper, magazine or radio talk show runs a feature about a kid’s music artist, that story is fully covered and “done,” and it’ll be a long time before anything in the genre will be considered again. Don’t call us; we’ll call you.

Now, I know that there is always a glut of entertainment news to consider, and feature story ideas come a dime a dozen. But this attitude about children’s music doesn’t seem very thoughtful or journalistically fair. In most major media today, entertainment and features sections devote more space to talking about how to entertain dogs and cats than how to provide great entertainment to children. “Pet Talk” columns are regular features in major daily papers and magazines. Where are the “Kid Talk” columns that could feature the wealth of quality children’s entertainment that is released each month?

Only one syndicated newspaper columnist I know, Lee Littlewood at Creators.com, faithfully features new music for families, and her column is not picked up by major outlets. Newspapers that used to run regular features about family music and DVDs have fallen by the wayside, and national parenting magazines devote a fraction of what they once did to children’s media coverage.

It is strange that public TV features hours of excellent children’s programming but public radio offers nothing, at least not nationally, for kids. Other than the new Pied Piper Radio (struggling for attention on the PRX network) and Kids Public Radio (trying valiantly to break into public radio’s new secondary digital bandwidth), the national (NPR, PRI) public airwaves are weirdly empty of family music programming. Thank goodness for the many community radio volunteers who are willing to spend their weekends spinning tunes for kids (witness the wonders of these shows: The Imagination Parade, T-Bone’s Radio Active Kids, the Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl, or Grandfather Stark’s Musical Merry Go Round). And Sirius-XM Satellite Radio’s Kids Place Live remains the shining beacon for featuring high quality family music all day, every day.

Until they have kids of their own, the nation’s top music critics rarely pay attention to family music, and when they do, they tend to favor only artists that have former careers in the indie rock genre. Perhaps they believe that children are not worth their time, agreeing with this critic: “Generally speaking, kids are pretty stupid…”. Perhaps some journalists would prefer to live in a world where the education and entertainment and even the presence of children is not appealing or interesting to them.

Bill Harley

Cathy and Marcy

The artists practicing in the family music world, most notably the artists who are beginning their third decades of performing for and working with children, know from experience how smart and relevant their work needs to be to succeed with their discerning audiences. Just check out the works of artists like Bill Harley, Cathy And Marcy, Trout Fishing – or especially Ella Jenkins, who has been creating simple and effective music for kids for more than 50 years. These artists take their work seriously, and their audiences respond in droves. So why is there so little media coverage for artists like this, who are devoting their entire careers to making excellent media for children?

Ella Jenkins

Perhaps it’s time to take a tip from children’s music pioneer Raffi (whose children’s music is so unfairly vilified, even by some of today’s children’s music artists). His Child Honouring efforts start with his music. Honoring children, by creating and promoting media that supports their development, is one of the best ways to improve society as a whole. If you believe, as Raffi does, that “early childhood is the gateway to humane being,” then urge your local media to devote more space and time to music and media that works for kids.

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