Tuesday 16 February 2021

Album Review: It's Music Time - B Minor Music

B Minor Music is the brainchild of Bree Hansen, an early childhood educator, who writes and performs original music for children. Her new album "It's Music Time" combines educational content for teachers with action packed songs for children. It achieves this using a variety of musical styles, from country to jazz to pop.  Whether this involves clapping, jumping, counting, or simply enjoying the sunshine safely, it is all here, wrapped up in one fabulous package.  So, if you are looking for music that will both captivate your students and ignite their imaginations then look no further, this truly is an educator's delight.

The album kicks off in fine form with the uptempo "B Minor Music". The song unfolds almost like a TV theme tune, accompanied by some energetic kids' vocals bringing up the rear. "Until I Tell You" is more laid back with a melodic piano dominating the track throughout. Here the kids are encouraged to jump, stomp, run, clap, wiggle and spin until they are commanded to stop. Speaking as a music teacher, this song would be a valuable acquisition in any music room.

"Can You?" is another call to action song, this time challenging the listener with the question 'can you?' to a variety of instructions which turn out to be 'as easy as can be'. It clearly benefits from an infectious groove, which will surely have the kids up and dancing in no time. Interestingly "Play Along With Me" uses a similar formula, but this time it is the playing of musical instruments which is encouraged. Each instrument is announced and performed in turn, whether this is a shaker, a tambourine or a triangle. The song instructs the children to perform the particular instrument, either individually or in a group. The gentle pace of the song is also significant, giving the kids the opportunity to perform at their own pace. 

"Fluffy Unicorns" is essentially a counting song, where the number of unicorns gradually disappears until we are left with only one. The song reminded me at times of "Five Little Ducks" but this time without the encore. Although the listener is reassured that despite their gradual disappearance the unicorns 'still love you'. I guess in some ways, the artist is bringing traditional ideas up to date for the twenty-first century.

Yes, there really is a song called "Sharing a Banana" on this album, which has more of a jazz feel, with a lively bass and some swing drumming throughout. Although the album has an overall eclectic approach, there are a few songs which draw their influence from jazz. "Clap to the Beat" also benefits from a noticeable jazz influence, as well as some superb harmonies throughout.  There is also a similar feel on "Fun in the Sun," where a lively piano and a double bass compete with guitar and trumpet to lay down the groove. Here, the song reminds children of the importance of sun safety, with lyrics that convey the point with noticeable skill and dexterity.

The artist effortlessly moves between a variety of themes on the album. The multicultural "Shades", with its somewhat hypnotic start and stop approach, seamlessly moves on to the more wacky and acerbic "Who's that Knocking?" Where, in almost "Finger Family" style, the artist invites various family members to announce themselves.

"At the Zoo" is essentially an uptempo tribute to Melbourne Zoo, where we are treated to a musical description of a variety of animals, including elephants, kangaroos, crocodiles, lions, and frogs. There are many opportunities for children to imitate the actions of the animals described in the song. Towards the end, the song takes on more of a melancholy twist, and slows down in time to flutter softly like a butterfly. The artist cleverly concludes the song with a brief summary of the adventures they have experienced. 

"I Love Counting" is an action song that is also educational. Here the children are encouraged to count to ten, and then count backwards. I guess it is slightly similar in arrangement to "Ten Little Indians," although a more updated version. There is also a very effective string section used for additional impact. The chorus is really quite uplifting, and serves to stir the emotions with its emphatic declaration of how 'I love counting', which is 'so much fun'. If we are trying to get the kids super keen to learn then this surely is a step in the right direction.

There is also plenty to dance to on this album. Whether it is the intoxicating "Scarf", an action song, with an anthemic chorus where the children are encouraged to 'twirl round and round'. To the delightful "Down in the Garden", where we can both witness and join in the dance, along with the energetic Fairy Harmony who leads the way. There are clearly heaps of opportunities to move and groove throughout. 

My favourite track is the delightful "Show a Little Kindness". It has a slight country feel, with shades of bluegrass on display. The song incorporates a shuffle beat, which provides a nice uptempo groove throughout the song. The song also features a splendid honky-tonk piano sprinkled throughout the track.  It also has one of the more memorable tunes on the album, along with an equally important message, where we are encouraged to 'show a little kindness'.  

This album takes the kids on an action packed musical adventure that never lets up for a second. Whether we are enjoying a visit to the zoo, or witnessing fluffy unicorns on the way, there is something here for everyone. The album is saturated in melody and optimism, and boasts a number of important educational themes. The whole album is put together beautifully, from the title, to the artwork to the overall production. There is nothing minor about this artist, so if you're looking for something a little bit special, grab a copy of this album, because 'It's Music Time', and you better believe it.

The album will be available everywhere on 20 February 2021.

B Minor Music - learning is fun.

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