The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Laurie Berkner. Photo by Jayme Thornton.

Laurie Berkner, The You and Me Solo Tour

Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord
When: Saturday, Jan. 10, at 11 a.m.
Tickets: $35 individual, family four pack $100

Movin’ to the music
“Kindie rocker” comes to the Capitol Center

By Allie Ginwala

Get ready to dance in the aisles and sing along to songs about dinosaurs and bottle caps when children’s music artist Laurie Berkner takes the stage for a solo performance at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m.

Berkner’s shows, like her music, are an interactive experience. Theater permitting, kids can get up and move around during the show as she leads them through the motions and movements of the songs. 
“I try to start the first couple of songs [seated] so there is a sense of where they are and they know that’s a home place,” Berkner said in a phone interview. 
As the show goes on, however, she’ll get more and more interactive, inviting kids to hop up from their seats and sometimes even get into the aisles.  
Berkner will play mostly from her greatest hits albums, performing songs that kids who have grown up listening to her music will recognize most. One request Berkner made is that children coming to the show “bring animals for their heads.” An odd request for those unfamiliar with Berkner’s music, but for fans it’s a hint that she will playing one of her most popular songs, “Pig on Her Head.”
Berkner said that back when she taught music to kids in a classroom setting, one young boy refused to put away a small plastic pig he was playing with. Instead, he put the pig on his head. After seeing that, Berkner gave the boy two choices: put it away or give it to her to use in a song. He chose the song. “The lyrics are simply, ‘Laurie has a pig on her head,’” she said. “It’s one of my most beloved songs. The kids bring animals, and I sing about the animals.”
The simple fun found in her songs has been a part of her music since the beginning. Before she became a “kindie rock” sensation, Berkner was a preschool music specialist at Rockefeller University Child and Family Center in New York City. 
“I was hired right out of college basically and loved working with kids and was a musician and thought it would be fun and had no idea what I would be doing,” she said.
Her first weeks in the job were tough; she had a hard time connecting with the children. 
“I would go home kind of crying because I didn’t know how to communicate with the kids and didn’t know what they were interested in,” she said.
A chat with the previous preschool music specialist led Berkner to stop talking and put everything into music. 
“I started asking them, ‘What do you want to sing?’ and I would put it into a song,” she said. 
The first time, the kids chose dinosaurs, so Berkner put words to music and gave the kids instructions to follow as if they were dinos: march, wave your arms and eat your dinosaur food. 
“They wanted to act it out and be it and all I would have to do is suggest these ideas,” she said. “And I started to learn from that.”
She now plays “We are the Dinosaurs” at every concert.
Over the next years, Berkner began to build her music. She taught music in classrooms and performed solo at birthday parties for kids on the weekends. After a visit to the Today show and appearing in videos on Noggin (the original name of the kids’ cable channel Nick Jr.), Berkner had established her brand. 
When it comes to writing and singing songs, Berkner draws inspiration from something “tangible and fun.” 
“I just made a new video of an old song called ‘Bottle Caps,’” she said. “It’s actually about collecting things.” 
Most of her songs have that “tangible fun” along with movement, to help kids engage the mind and body and emotionally connect to the song, which Berkner says is key. 
“I think that having music be part of kids’ lives in a way that is fun and allows them space to express themselves and to explore their bodies and their own connection to music is really important,” she said. 
As seen in the January 8, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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