Friday, June 18, 2010

The girls' first (and second) rock gigs

A week tomorrow we're taking the girls to London to see Brooklyn band They Might Be Giants (TMBG) play a family show at the Royal Festival Hall. I can't wait. The girls' first proper gig at two and four years old. (They've been to a couple of Folk Festivals, but I'm not counting those as I want this one to count.)

Long after I'd booked the tickets for that I heard they were coming to Cambridge the next day for their only other UK gig - a family show in one of the University's lecture theatres. This is apt since their recent kids album is all about science. I couldn't pass that up so I bought four tickets to that too. Anne's out that day so I've asked my mum to come.

I bought my first TMBG album 20 years ago this month and have loved them ever since. I've seen them live several times. So it's a big thing for me to take ThingOne and ThingTwo to their first TMBG gig. I hope they like.

In recent years, as well as continuing to make "grown up" music TMBG have been making kids albums. Some of these have been educational albums which come with DVDs: Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s and Here Comes Science.

Our kids have been exposed to these a lot, and it makes a welcome change for us from The Wheels on the Bus.

The songs are educational albums in the best way, in that any 'education' is secondary to the music, and this has meant that ThingOne and ThingTwo have enjoyed them log before the concepts in the songs are of any use to them. There's information in there, but mostly the songs just happen to feature, say, letters and numbers in them.

The science album is probably more overtly educational, though you've got to admire a song like Meet The Elements which manages to be catchy even with lyrics like (referring to chemical elements) "like a box of paints that are mixed to make any shade, they either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are".

Even at four some of the 'learning' on the albums is beyond ThingOne. But thanks to TMBG ThingOne has been able to sing the alphabet backwards since she was two and a half, list the planets in alphabetical order, and tell people that the sun is made of plasma, not gas.

If I could make one suggestion for government education policy it would be to ensure every bit of the curriculum has a catchy song to go with it.

For both ThingOne and ThingTwo the first song we played their virgin ears, minutes after they were born, was the same TMBG song. That the song was The End of Tour which appears to be about traffic accidents and death is neither here nor there.

Is this indoctrination of our kids healthy? Not sure. It's certainly fun.

ThingOne really likes TMBG and can recite a lot of the songs. ThingTwo has also listened to a lot of their songs, but mainly likes the fact that both members of the band are called John.

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