Back-to-School Music Recommendations From Kids' Corner's Kathy O'Connell


A song for school mornings and an album devoted to science are easy picks for the new school year, while new parents and young ones can get a taste of musical mindfulness thanks to a couple of new albums. Meanwhile, a kindie veteran offers teachers collaborative tools.

The Microphone Doctors:

“School’s Cool”

Energetic, rhythmic, and tattooed describe this marvelous duo known for love songs to “Donuts” and “French Fries.” “School’s Cool” (from the CD Kids Be Like) captures the chaos of a school morning while posing the question “What the heck is Play-Doh?”

Infectious, delightful Ramones-like rock, until your kids discover the actual Ramones.

The Pop Ups: Giants of Science

Brooklyn-based duo Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein are The Pop Ups, mixing puppetry, humor, dance, comedy, props and fabulous music in every performance. Even if you never see their live show, rush to download their latest project, Giants of Science. Their 80’s-driven pop tendencies are on delightful display here on songs about geology (“Cave of Wonders”), “Shadow” (featuring Grammy winner Secret Agent 23 Skidoo), “Time” and “Inventors.” Scientific questions and theories are on display without ever losing the sense of fact-based wonder that science inspires.

Kira Willey: Every Voice

Bethlehem’s Kira Willey’s body of work centers on themes of “music, movement and mindfulness.” Willey’s songs for yoga and movement find enthusiastic audiences on PBS, and her expertise in mindfulness has produced a wonderful catalog. Her fifth CD is Every Voice, a spirited collection of original songs that both inspires and relaxes in a range of styles. Willey doesn’t shy away from electric rock, but still honors the basics of voice and guitar. Her collaboration with Laurie Berkner on “Dream It Up” is folkie and wispy and nearly perfect. “Community” celebrates the tapestry we are with danceable rhythms. “Real Girl” gives voice to what I observed at a recent festival where Girl Scouts responded to her like a superstar. She is.

​Vered & the Babes: Songs for Sisters and Brothers

Vered (Benhorin) and the Babes is the musical arm of Brooklyn’s Baby in Tune workshops and their CDs are a go-to baby gift in general. Now Vered expands as a family does, beyond the intimacy of the parent/child, to Songs for Sisters and Brothers. She captures the complexities of siblings, from having a “Personal Comedian” to musing on “How It Once Was.” It’s all done with wit and honest reflections on the feelings of sibs. She had me musing on my own kid brother’s role in making me who I am, with “A Little Bit Tough.”

Bill Harley: Teachers’ Lounge

Legendary songwriter/storyteller/author Bill Harley’s website is one-stop shopping for a bounty of treasures. His teaching tools include original lesson plans as well as an invitation for teachers everywhere to share theirs. This is a valuable resource for traditional and non-traditional school experiences.


Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody award-winning Kids Corner, on air Mon.–Thurs., 7–8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.



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