Laurie Berkner, The Dinosaurs and Me
by Jennifer Shakeel
One of the greatest joys in what I do is getting to talk with really cool people that are doing what they can to help children. Be it help them grow, learn, understand or overcome something in life.
Recently I was able to chat with one of my favorite Kids Rock Stars, can I say my kids were beyond excited, the one and only Laurie Berkner.
Hopefully you enjoyed the audio clip from our interview, now get comfortable and get inspired by a very busy mom and super talented artist!
How did you decide which songs would become books?
The decision was actually made along with my editor – another AMAZING person that I get to work with as part of this project. When I was pitching the idea to different publishing houses I had written descriptions of about 30 of my songs, what each one meant, and what in my life had inspired me to write them. When Christian Trimmer from Simon and Schuster read those descriptions – along with the lyrics – and listened to each of the songs, he chose three that he thought would make great picture books. I loved his suggestions and agreed that they would work well visually, and the decision was made.
How is your program “Music In Me” going? I read that you started the pilot program about a year ago in a few NYC schools?
It’s going really well! Laurie Berkner’s The Music In Me is a curriculum I developed for “me and my grown-up” style music classes that kids ages 1-4 and their caregivers take together. I’ve been training teachers, and we have classes in New York City as well as some in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The program is not in schools yet but there has been interest in having me modify the curriculum to use it in the classroom as well.
Earlier in your career you drew inspiration from your daughter and the things that she was doing. Now with her being older where do you draw inspiration from?
I actually started my career in kids’ music almost 10 years before my daughter was born, so while she was of course a great source of inspiration – especially when she was younger – I’ve written many more songs based on the kids I taught music to, my own memories of being a child, and things I hear kids say on the bus, on the street, in the grocery store, etc. I still write most of my songs that way.
Does your daughter travel with you when you tour?
Not usually. When she was a baby, her dad (my husband, Brian) was the bass player in The Laurie Berkner Band so we all traveled together. After Brian left the band to become a psychologist, she came less often, and I also found it harder and harder to be her mom and a performer at the same time. I remember once when she was 4 years old, I was on stage and saw her looking so sad and angry in the audience. I felt terrible that I couldn’t talk to her or go to her at that moment, and it was very hard to keep on singing. I later found out that she was devastated because I hadn’t sung about the animal she brought to the show. (I sing about the animals kids in the audience have during the song “Pig On Her Head.”) She used to tell me that she half loved coming to the shows, and half hated it, because it was very hard to share me with all of the other kids. Now she really only comes to concerts that are local (unless we’re doing something special) and usually spends her time helping out at the merchandise table.
What are some of the things you look forward to when touring?
More sleep, meeting some of the kids and families who listen to my music, and hanging out with the band!
Do you have any favorite stops? Why?
My favorite stops are places where we haven’t played very often because the people who come to those shows are SO excited to see us play. It really feels amazing to meet families who have been waiting for years to meet us.
Have you ever or would you consider doing school shows? Charity events?
I’ve played many charity events and many school shows over the years. A couple of years ago I was actually booking free shows for public schools in the tri-state area but I just couldn’t keep it up because of the amount of time I had to invest. I try to find time to do at least one charity event every year.
What do you think is one of the major challenges that children face today, that they didn’t face 10 years ago?
Learning how to occupy themselves without using a screen to do it. And I don’t mean that in a righteous way. It’s a huge struggle I have with my own daughter and with myself. There is so much available on screens now that I find it difficult to remember how good it feels to just play a game together, make art, put on some music, read together, go on a hike, or just snuggle and talk.
In your opinion how do you think we can change/help?
Remembering that playing music, dancing and making music together is a wonderful way to bond as a family and to teach your child that music and love are connected. It’s also a way that children can express themselves and spend time developing and indulging their other senses.
What do you consider some of the major challenges we as parents face today?
Making time to just BE with our kids. It’s so easy to get caught up in making sure that they are DOING all of the things we think they should be doing and learning. Having unstructured down- time with our kids seems to me to be harder and harder to make time for.
Ready for even more exciting Laurie Berkner fun? Check out some of her great links:
Jennifer Shakeel is a professional writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience, most important an only parent of 4. Her purpose here is to share with you what she has earned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. She will also share what the joys and obstacles of parenting 2 special needs children. Providing inspiration that will make you laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that being a parent/caregiver is one of the greatest jobs on Earth!
No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © and All Rights Reserved.