Amber’s note: We were first introduced to Bari Koral’s music when asked to review her new CD Rock and Roll Garden (out today!) I fell in love with her sound and her mission. Totally starstruck I gathered my courage and asked her to give us her take on kids music, play and the relationship with have with the children in our lives. I just love how Bari’s personality comes through in her typing so I’ve left it just the way she sent it to me.
Me: Why did you make the switch to kids’ music?
Bari: i was on the road for a very long time, making a living with my “adult” music. i did sell cds, but my main income was by appearances, so in other words- i had to travel to make money. after many many years of this i was starting to take a good look at my life. i had no relationship, i thought maybe i’d like to have a child one day, and here i was, in fargo, ND AGAIN, how was i going to have a child when i was never home to have a relationship? and i just craved having some kind of settling feeling.
around this time my little niece was about 4 or 5 years old and there were some songs of my she was obsessed with. that she just wanted to hear over and over again. i was wondering- why these songs? she did have a knack for a great melody though! she always seemed drawn to what I also agreed where the strongest tunes on the “adult” albums.
armed with this knowledge, and craving a change in my life- i was inspired by some friends in the music business- and one in the family music business to try and write “pop tunes” specifically for children. so i went to a cabin in the woods and tried to write songs from my niece’s perspective, stories and ideas she would really enjoy but i kept a foot in what i considered a good melody because i still wanted the music to be satisfying to me– and to the parents who would be listening.
so, it was really out of a desire for a life change, and a love of my niece and other children where the switch came in. i found out pretty early on that i seemed to have a knack at “interpreting” for children in terms of my lyrics. and i never looked back.
Me: What is different about performing for an audience of parents and little ones?
Bari: it’s really heaven. i have been in the music business now for almost 20 years and playing for children and families is by far my favorite. the expectations are so different. there is more of an openness with children and families- a willingness to let go and just enjoy and be. sometimes when it’s just adults I felt i was working hard sometimes to just loosen everyone up.
i find often with families and children we are just ready to go by note 1. or at least by the 2nd song! and often parents are letting go because their children are letting go. and they see how much fun their kids are having and that makes them happy. and that makes us happy on stage and it’s all just feels great. so, it just all becomes about joy. about celebrating families and being together in a fun and loving way.
Me: When a parent and child share music, what effect does it have on their relationship?
Bari: that is a great question. i think it is a profound effect. my happiest moments with my niece are being in the car and putting on a song i really like and watching her move to it and enjoy it. there we both are, on the highway just having a great time together. music can be such a deep bond. your secret time together with your child. it’s almost like inviting something from another world into your relationship. it can’t be fully explained or understood. there is a bit of wonder about it- it’s an instant mood maker or mood changer, depending what you are listening to. i think it’s a way to bond with a child that is just completely authentic and satisfying.
Me: What are some tips for engaging our little ones in music play? How can we maximize the benefits of sharing music with our little ones?
Bari: play music. so many of the children that are into music in my classes or my concerts listen to a lot of music because they love it and often because their parents love it and are playing music at home. play around- jazz, blues, pop, rock, classical-experiment. it doesn’t have to be all kids/family music all the time. have a few instruments around the house- even shakers that children can shake along to and feel like they are part of the music. if you are listening to classical give your child (ages 3 and up) a pair of paper plates so they can “ice skate” or paper plate skate to the music, like the nutcracker.
my friend danny is a concert promoter and his son is 5 and he may know more about the beatles then i do (and i know A LOT) and this little boy absolutely loves the beatles and can sing every word. this was important to his dad and now it’s important to his son and i know that to danny- that is just about the greatest thing in the world, to share this love of music with his son.
Me: What is one thing you wish you could share with every parent?
Bari: wow. one thing. hmm. not sure if it is one thing- but i’d love to inspire parents to fill themselves up with what they need and love so they can give to others, like their children. i think as parents it’s easy to just give and give and that can make you depleted. i always find i do my best “taking care of others” when i am taking care of myself. why do they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first in an airplane in the event of an incident. it is because you can’t take care of another unless you are taken care of. so- make time to do things YOU enjoy, to fill up, rest, recover, and give back. and then when you give back to your children, it may come from a deeper place of truth and contentment- and… play music!!
Rock and Roll Garden is available on Amazon. Go grab yours today. It’s a must-have for every home with little ones! A comment on today’s post is an extra entry in the giveaway for Laptime Songs for Mommies!