This Sunday, rather than listen to Emmett’s favorite French CD for the 1,199th time, we popped in Dan Zanes’ new ¡Nueva York! CD and gave it a whirl. The disc features songs in both Spanish and English, all with a fun, modern sound that makes it as listenable for adults as it is addictive for kids. Zanes is one of the most popular childrens’ singers around — along the lines of Raffi — and is local to the New York area (I think Brooklyn). I find listening to music in another language is a great way to familiarize your kids with basic words and phrases in a context that can last a lifetime. Think about how long you hold onto song lyrics, even those you heard as a wee child. Sometimes by the end of a crazy day I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast, but I’ll never forget the words to “Frère Jacques,” which I learned in grade school in France, or the entire Carly Simon repertoire, which is burned into my brain, for better or for worse.
My interest in Zanes and his music is of course an extension of my fascination with fun language learning, and the planning that is going into Little Pim’s CD project. What’s really great about ¡Nueva York! in particular, for both existing fans and those new to Dan Zanes, is his decision to use the album as an opportunity to work with many talented artists and musicians, including Barbara Brousal, an accomplished vocalist and frequent Zanes collaborator who taught Spanish at St. Anne’s grade school for nine years and may very well be the Spanish singer on our Little Pim CD. We are so thrilled at the prospect of working with such a talented musician on our project. But until our CD is ready, I suggest sampling ¡Nueva York! For Parents trying to teach their kids Spanish, this is a lively creative selection to add to the mix. Hasta pronto!