4.5 billion BC to 80 million BC:
Molten lava hardens, mountains and oceans are formed, first protein meets first amino acid, fish grow feet, big lizards, apes walk upright etc…
80 million BC to 6000 BC:
People stop wandering around and plant food.
6000 BC to September 6th 1996:
Pyramids are built, Greece and Rome stuff happens, Italian Renaissance, (some decent art) lots of wars, industrial revolution, a guy named David Weinstone loses his job as a waiter.
October 1996 to July1997:
David Weinstone takes a job teaching for a national music program for pre-schoolers, plays in grunge rock band at night.
Weinstone checks out some other children's music classes with his toddler, decides kids need better music, writes a few songs about taxis, skyscrapers, bagels, boogers and stuff, friends say "Yeah!"
September 7th 1997:
First Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals class is held in the basement of a restaurant in the East Village of Manhattan, six families attend and leave with big smiles.
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It should be noted that the incredible events following that first class are hazy at best. Historians believe that the six original families were each given a cassette of Weinstone's songs for their children to listen to at home.
Bootleg copies were made and circulated around the neighborhood and within a few weeks angry (well, at least disappointed) mobs of stroller pushing parents were being turned away at the door. It is well documented that Fox 5's Good Day New York, Metro Guide TV, NYU Arts and many small local papers and radio stations ran features on the music and the classes. This, along with strong word of mouth and the continued spread of the tapes transformed a fledgling music program into a bona-fide local phenomenon. Within one year of it's conception MFA had become a household name in New York City.
The children's songs by David Weinstone, originally intended for use simply as a reference to class activities, have since captured the imagination and touched the hearts of families all across the country and around the world. Today MFA continues to enjoy astounding success and praise with recent full-page profiles in Time Magazine, The New York Times and The New York Daily News. National exposure seems imminent as more and more music educators discover the music that so many children have already come to treasure, and utilize it in their school programs.
Experts agree, something very exciting and new came into being that fateful day 4.5 billion years ago, and then again on September 7th 1997. What impact these events will have in the grand scheme of things both past and future is yet to be seen, and yet to be written.
Excerpts from an interview with David Weinstone
by Fabra Kate of Kid's Cuts Radio
Fabra Kate: You have obviously hit a nerve with your audience. What is it about your music that children respond to?
David Weinstone: I think it's a matter of getting into their heads and trying to see the world from their eyes. I wrote the song "Velcro" because my son was learning to dress himself but couldn't tie up his sneaks. We bought him the velcro kind and he was like master of his feet. There are dozens of trials and tribulations in the day-to-day life of children and sometimes the little things can mean a lot. I write about things that really happen to kids and they recognize the situations.
FK: You also write songs that deal with birth and death, feelings of separation and anger. How do you make more complex subjects accessible to a child?
DW: Well, I don't think the examples you mentioned are as necessarily complex from a child's perspective. If your kid gets upset you pretty much know why immediately. They were denied a toy or they were scared of a new situation. Maybe they just needed a diaper change. When adults get upset or react to things with fear or anger it may really be about something else that happened to them twenty-five years ago. You can broach these topics with kids because it's easier to pinpoint the source of their feelings. So instead of writing a fluffy song about how it's o.k. to be angry, you write a song about the elusive Buzz Lightyear toy or something. I wrote a song called "Little Flower." The flower is born, blooms, almost gets trampled; falls in love with the sun then withers and dies. It's an epic tale in a minute-and-a-half about love, vulnerability, triumph and finally death. Is it too complex for a two-year old? No, it's a song about a flower.
FK: The first time I listened to your music was in my car driving home from work and I found myself laughing out loud. I remember thinking how witty and sophisticated it was at times, but there is also this element of ridiculousness likened to a Three Stooges movie. Can you talk a little bit about the humor in your songs?
DW: I don't know why but I never liked The Three Stooges. Could you change that to The Marx Brothers or The Keystone Cops?
FK: O.K., Seinfeld meets The Keystone Cops.
DW: Everybody needs a good laugh now and then. Despite all the mood swings I think kids are pretty easily amused, especially by their own antics. I wrote a song called "I Crack Me Up" about that giddy state of mind kids can get to where they're laughing for it's own sake. I also like to poke fun at kids in a way that lets them laugh at themselves, like in the song "Grumpy" or "Meltdown." Humor is a great healer but sometimes funny is just funny, like when a child asks, "How many more minutes until I have to go to bed?" You say fifteen more minutes and they ask, "How many is that?"
FK: And how do you answer that?
DW: I don't know, it always stumps me.
FK: Parents I've talked to speak passionately about your music, but some of your critics have suggested that you sometimes cross the line between what is appropriate for young children, and what is really more adult music.
DW: Is that a question?
FK: Well, I guess it's really two questions: What is the appeal to parents? And, how do you respond to your critics?
DW: I think the parents find the stylistic diversity in the music exciting. The element of surprise both musically and lyrically. The different energy levels. And I also think they recognize it as being authentically original and intelligent compared to other children's music. As far as the music being inappropriate for young children, I think that's ridiculous. My writing is full of traditional folk, pop and jazz, classical and Latin influences, but I've grown up listening to The Ramones, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Lou Reed and Nirvana. If some of my songs seem over-the-top to a few people I say "buy something else." I'm not crossing a line. Hopefully I'm erasing one.
FK: Is there any music you do consider inappropriate for children?
DW: Yes, most children's music.
DW: I am serious. Music that's dumbed-down and full of corny cliches is offensive to me, and I think it does our children a great disservice. Kids are smarter than that and deserve better from us. Of course, I'm opposed to music with violent themes or foul language for children. I would like to see us (as a culture) introduce music to children with the same kind of intelligence and creativity we introduce them to the other arts. We have wonderful theater for them. Wonderful children's literature and art. Why should they be listening to the equivalent of stick figure drawings?
FK: How do your own kids like your music?
DW: I think they like it. Unless they're just being polite.