by Rebecca Scheinberg, CMNH Intern
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from.” – Billy Joel
Music has an incredible power to imprint memories into our brains that can last a lifetime. Music has the ability to transform a mood, to lift a spirit, to bring people together. My morning routine includes music and coffee. These are the essentials. I am not a morning person so music serves as a necessity, equal to my morning coffee, for waking up. While I was getting ready for my internship [at the Children’s Museum] one morning, I was listening to the Harry Belafonte station on Pandora. The songs were upbeat and may have inspired an impromptu dance party in my kitchen while making coffee. Then the song, ‘When I’m 64’ by the Beatles, started. I love the playfulness of this song and I remember listening to it with my dad when I was a kid. My father is a big music and Beatles fan. It prompted a vivid memory of listening to the song from the tabletop jukebox in the mid-90s with my family at a New York diner. My parents would give me three quarters and let me choose the songs, at least one of which would be a song by the Beatles.
This memory sparked an idea. I wanted to learn more about what songs parents shared with their children. I spoke with a few people including Neva and Taylore (the two incredible humans who run the Communications/Marketing department at the CMNH) and my dear, wonderful friend Marsha. They shared some musical memories with me.
Taylore Kelly, Communications Specialist and Development Assistant
I Ran by the Flock of Seagulls
My son Yoso was delayed in speaking. He would hum and so I would play him music a lot and he started singing in the car in particular. I think it may have been the acoustics and the stereo itself. So he could sing before he could talk. The first song he picked up was the song “I Ran” by flock of seagulls. He sang that song after the second time of playing it for him, and danced in his car seat. It was the first song I had ever recorded on my boombox in the 80’s. So it’s very nostalgic to us both.
Marsha, CMNH Patron and Mom
“I make sure that I sing both kids a handful of lullabies before it's lights out. I love this part of the day, when they are quiet and succumbing to sleepiness, and it's pretty much the only time of day when they are still. Like most people, I love sleeping children - they almost seem to glow with innocence and goodness. I also have nice memories of my mom singing me German lullabies before I would go to bed, which was pretty much the only time I let her speak German, her native language, so I think she loved that time of day. At any rate, we had all sorts of songs in our repertoire in the beginning, but because James (my husband) and I tag team with the bedtime responsibilities, and because both kids are stalwart in their little routines, the songs we routinely ended up singing needed to be songs that both of us knew. James doesn't know many songs. One of the few songs he does know is Silent Night. It was never a song that I was particularly interested in, as it has fairly obvious connotations and I'm a cynical atheist, but we sing it each and every night throughout the year, and I have come to deeply appreciate its message of peace, a gentle world, a good night's sleep that is wished upon innocent children, and I often confess that I get a bit choked up as I sing it. It's exactly what I wish for my children: peace, both through sleep and through a good and kind world. It's beautiful, and it makes me so grateful that I have these little hellraisers to look after and try to help them pave a safe path through their travels.”
Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director
“My daughter, Lila has never really tolerated my singing. When she was about 2 or 3, we’d be driving in the car and a great song would come on the radio and I’d start belting out the lyrics, only to have her scream at me “Mama! STOP!” Even when I’d play her toddler music, she refused to let me sing along to the ABC’s, insisting that she should be the only one singing and dancing around.
Now that she is five, she’s a bit more tolerant. We’ve had some successful dance parties in the kitchen to Taylore Swift’s “Shake It Off.” After seeing the animated movie “Sing” however, we’ve taken it to a whole new level of enthusiasm. Now, when we are making cookies, or eating lunch in the kitchen, the request for music is very specific. “BAMBOLEO, please!”
Neither of us know most of the lyrics, but we dance around waiting for the chorus to kick in. Then, at the top of our lungs, shout it out: “BAMBOLEO! BAMBOLEA!” Thank you Gipsy Kings for getting my daughter to finally let me get my dance on!”
Thank you all for sharing a beautiful glimpse into your stories. I hope that you find time in your day to enjoy the music and get your dance on!
The award-winning duo Peg + Cat visited the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire yesterday. Curious Peg & her hilarious best friend Cat get into math-related hi-jinx each day on their PBS program. While they are ably assisted in their adventures by characters such as Ramone, The Pirates, Richard the Space Alien, and even George Washington & Cleopatra, Peg & Cat and their delightful wordplay and songs are the reason families keep tuning in.
With the news that Saturday Morning Cartoons are now officially a thing of the past, let’s take this opportunity to look at some famous dynamic duos from the world of children’s television shows.
Chip ‘N’ Dale made their debut in 1943 in a series of animated shorts that pitted them against either Pluto the Dog or Donald Duck. While often taking background roles in many Disney shorts and specials, a new audience met Chip ‘N’ Dale in 1989 when they anchored their own cartoon with “Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers” as part of the Disney Afternoon block of programming.
Beany & Cecil began as a Puppet Show in 1949 created by famed Warner Brothers animator Bob Clampett. Beany had the ability to fly using his patented beanycopter while the childlike Cecil the Sea Serpent often stayed in water and was so large that his tail was rarely seen as it would continue “off screen”. It relaunched as an animated show in 1959 and then was relaunched again in 1988 as the “The New Adventures of Beany & Cecil” cartoon.
Rocky & Bullwinkle were the stars of their own variety show that ran from 1959-1964. Created by Jay Ward, the show was responsible for introducing not only the legendary title characters, but Dudley Do-Right, Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, Mr. Peadbody & Sherman. Many of the characters were given life by voiceover legends June Foray, Paul Frees, Bill Scott and Daws Butler. The show was popular with children as well as adults due to its clever wordplay and intelligent writing.
Bert and Ernie debuted on Sesame Street in the summer of 1969. They were the first of Jim Henson’s creations to appear on the show – a part of it from the very first episode, pre-dating Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. Best friends Bert and Ernie are meant to represent the curiosity and behaviors of 6-7 year olds. Ernie, famed for his dedication to his rubber ducky, loves pulling tricks on the pigeon-loving Bert, the most popular (and absurd) of which is pulling off Bert’s nose for comic effect.
Scooby Doo & Shaggy premiered in the Saturday morning cartoon, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” in the fall of 1969. The two perpetually frightened – and hungry – best friends have starred in a large variety of tv shows, comic books and movies since their debut. Each generation seems to rediscover Scoob, Shag, Velma, Daphne and Fred solving supernatural capers in their Mystery Machine.
Danger Mouse & Penfold first premiered in the United Kingdom in 1981, but saw their popularity reach even greater heights when US markets (most notably Nickelodeon) imported “Danger Mouse” – a cheeky take on James Bond – in 1984. Danger Mouse occupied the role of the heroic British spy while Ernest Penfold is his consistently nervous hamster sidekick prone to yell out, “Crumbs, D.M.!” or, ‘Oh, carrots!” before falling to pieces in the face of danger.
The Tick & Arthur are two lovable – if not often highly ridiculous superheroes – who live in The City. Originally created by Ben Edlund in 1986 for New England Comics, The Tick & Arthur were exposed to a much larger audience when their 1994 Saturday morning cartoon debuted on Fox. Fox was the home of the next incarnation of The Tick as well when a live-action version debuted in 2001. The Tick embodies several of the most popular mainstream superheroes in his origin, powers and behaviors (a healthy mix of Superman, Batman & Spider-Man) though his catchphrase (“Spoooooooooon!”) is wholly his own. The much more responsible and down-to-Earth Arthur is often getting him out of jams – some caused by supervillains, some caused by The Tick.
Wallace & Grommit, the brainchild of Nick Park from Aardman Animations, made their debut in 1989 in the Oscar-nomniated short film, “A Grand Day Out”. Their next two shorts – “The Wrong Trousers” & “A Close Shave” – and their first full-length feature, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” all won Academy Awards. Though Wallace is an inventor – specializing in Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions – most would agree that the silent Grommit is the smarter of the two, getting Wallace out of trouble or helping his inventions go more smoothly when he’s not busy knitting, playing chess or drinking tea. Though their adventures and occupations change with each outing, one thing that never changes is Wallace & Grommit being the best of friends.
Dora & Boots have been inseparable since their introduction in 2000 with the premiere of “Dora the Explorer”. Boots, who’s always sporting his trademark red boots, assists Dora during her adventures as they solve riddles and and figure out puzzles while often focusing on a strong bilingual component. Dora & Boots’ adventures proved so popular that they not only spun off their own books, video games and stage shows, but a brand new show as well: 2005’s “Go, Diego, Go!” which focused on animal rescue and environmental concerns with Dora’s cousin Diego.
Peg & Cat from Peg + Cat have only been entertaining families since 2013, but they’ve made such a favorable impression that the show won three Emmy Awards for its first season! Created by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson, based on the book “The Chicken Problem”, the math-focused adventures of Peg & Cat bring them in contact with an incredibly large array of characters and showcases some of the best songwriting ever created in the history of children’s programming. Peg & Cat are deeply loyal, deeply hilarious and deeply curious. These qualities make the show an absolute joy for children and parents alike. Thank you again to New Hampshire Public Television and PBS Kids for making it possible for Peg + Cat to be a part of CMNH’s big day!
Were you familiar with most of these dynamic duos? Do your children know any of them? Who did we forget? Let us know your favorite duo in the comments!