Sunday, September 5, 2010

In review--Children Raise Your Voice

The East Village Community School
Songs from the East Village
Independent release

When I was around 7 or 8 years old my mother bought me my first record player, one of those portable players with the handle on top, mine was orange and white. She also bought me my first collection of 45s which featured old American folk and Disney tunes which my sister and I learned with much enthusiasm. My favorite song was “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and I could sing that song all day long. And although our school district was a poor one, it provided music programs from 1-12 grades. I imagine that music even brought the community together and I certainly felt more at peace having music in my childhood years.

While many grade schools especially have lost their music programs due to budget cuts, many schools find a way to incorporate music into their educational programs despite what the economy is doing or not doing. The East Village Community School in the Lower Eastside of New York City brought parents, children and diversity together in creating its musical program. According to the liner notes of Songs from the East Village, many of the parents representing a variety of ethnic groups were also musicians and among them is Susan McKeown, a champion of music and language preservation, and now music programs in schools preservation.

And as you can imagine with all of this ethnic diversity the songs that appear on the fundraising CD, Songs from the East Village represent a variety of cultures with songs hailing from Iraq, Tibet, Spain, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the Appalachians and the Deep South (US). The children brought in songs taught to them by their parents and they helped in the production of the CD, lending their enthusiastic voices too. The proceeds from the CD keep this hands-on learning school in operation. Many of the CD listeners will hear traditional songs for the first time or will sing along with the ones they know from their own childhood.

This CD not only raises much needed funds, but would make a lovely gift for children of all stripes and sizes. It proves what a group of children can do to empower themselves and keep a roof over their school, so to speak. A worthy cause, you bet. and

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