Monthly Archives: August 2012

Our First Recording Session!

Jessi, Kelsey, Mikayla, Jillian and Aly with Music Director Susan Merritt at the keyboard

We have a lot of marketing ideas for A Shakespearean Tale! and they all need a CD recording of the seven-song score. So,…we gathered up the “Down Yonder” girls from our summer cast and headed for the recording studio of a great friend, singer/songwriter Doug Raney.

With remarkable optimism, we scheduled two afternoons of recording. Aly, Jillian, Mikayla, Kelsey, and Jessi are all fairly young (Aly is the oldest) and new to the discipline of performing for microphones and a digital recorder. “Oops, do it again,” (and again and again) is the order of most recording sessions, as anyone familiar with the tedious task is well aware.

However, these kids work so well together and have such great attitudes (and fun) that we captured three songs on our first day in a minimum of “takes” and finished the last four songs the next afternoon with remarkable efficiency. Even so, it’s a bit of a tense, testing, and tiring  challenge for everyone, including the musicians, though our smiling sound man seemed to sail through it with ease. Actually, we all had fun and enjoyed both sessions.

FFP’s Down Yonder Girls

Now we’re working on scheduling our fiddler and mandolin player (and possibly bass and snare), George Merritt, to lay down some final tracks for several songs, and our “singing mom,” Angela Geis, to do the lead track for “Mother’s Song.” Angie had three kids in the summer cast. Her wonderful voice was too tempting not to ask her to play the role of Granma Gertie Lear and provide the maturity we were looking for in the song dedicated to “every mother who gets her strength from above.”

When it’s finished, the CD will allow us to put song samples on the website.

Songs — Singable and Memorable!

“We’re all still singing your songs around the house.” “I can’t get that song out of my head!” “We’d love a CD of the songs in the play.”

That is music to a writer’s ears! When people — adults, kids — can sing a song, remember a song, and be unable to forget a song (!), that’s when you know you’ve written a catchy or pleasant melody, with solid, tight structure, good rhythm and rhyme, and meaningful (or catchy, or clever, or memorable) words.

And if the song is singable, it almost always means it is playable — that any reasonably accomplished guitarist or pianist can sit down and play the song, many times by ear.

At FFP, we love music. Music is fun. We love to play it, and to sing it, and to teach others — especially young people — how to sing good songs. We like to write songs that represent a wide variety of genres. And we don’t “write down” to kids. We don’t do “kid music.” We do music. Young people, from kindergarten to high school and up, have remarkably sophisticated tastes in music and an ability to appreciate well-constructed songs in a variety of popular styles.

The young people we work with also enjoy jumping into “good styles gone by,” such as jazz, Big Band, soul, 50’s/60’s rock, 60’s surf, folk and folk rock, 40’s/50’s Broadway, Western, Appalachian, and so on. That kind of cultural literacy is a good thing! And it’s fun.

Another thing that can be fun is some outlandish juxtaposition — a James Brown-style song in Old Testament Egypt, sung by a silent-movie era character.