One of the first things we can notice about a child is how creative they are…
but they may not be able to express this alone. Kids, like adults, often need to make discoveries and build upon inspiration from other artists. For the musically inclined, parents should pay attention to what their little ones listen to because music is critical to a young mind’s development. Sometimes, finding the appropriate songs for your kids is tough. Ready or Not!, the latest album from The Not-Its! and released on September 21, displays positive and relatable themes to children through an indie, or rather, “kindie,” sound.
Perhaps the most important element to a good kids’ album is the singer’s own clarity.
So much of the music we hear on the radio can sound garbled and sometimes foreign. While that can be a good stylistic choice for other genres, the children’s genre of music requires enunciated vocals that aren’t drowned out by the other instruments.
The Not-Its! performed well on this basic first step. Every word Sarah Shannon sings is crystal clear, making it perfect for even the youngest of children who are still learning how to babble.
Children mimic the words they hear.
Therefore, parents who are interested in what their children listen to may consider lyrical content most when flipping through songs. The good news is that The Not-Its! write thought-out lyrics that kids can relate to, while being all-around beneficial.
In “A Lie Is A Lie,” Shannon sings from the perspective of a child in fear of getting in trouble for breaking something in the house. The stream-of-consciousness expresses regret and confusion over telling a lie: “What was I thinking? / It seemed to make sense at the time.” The low bass and slow tempo turn into an upbeat chorus where the child admits they told “a great big lie” and blamed it on their “poor little cat.” While relatable, the song, as well as another remorseful track “Potty Mouth,” also helps reinforce better morals for children.
The Not-Its! show examples not only in ethics, but in musical practice as well.
Their easy-to-follow melodies are well syncopated and rhythm-ed for children. For kids beginning to play instruments, the chords and steady beat in “Heading Home” are perfect to strum along to (or even transfer to piano easily). The vocals allow for children to sing to, as the range is not too wide or difficult, and the songs do not include many long notes that kids’ little lungs couldn’t hold.
This thoughtfulness in their songs offers children a chance to gain confidence in their musical ability. It is not just an implicit theme; the closing track “What Will I Be?” lists off possible careers that little ones can dream of. Encouraging kids to reach for their aspirations, from teaching to engineering, is something that cannot be done enough. In a world where our kids can be bullied and teased because of their passions, positive reaffirmation is essential for their development, and it is a good note to end the album on.
A balance of tempo and timbre encompasses Ready or Not! from beginning to end, so that no one, including parents, will be bored while listening in the car. The album includes fast-paced, major-key “kindie-rock” like “Let The Games Begin” to slow, almost angsty songs like “Daddy Long Legs” (which has a certain spooky, Halloween vibe). Through these songs, The Not-Its! show their ability to compose a cohesive and dynamic record that suits the whole family.
Ready or Not! is available for streaming and purchase here.
Margaret Rothfus is a current freelancer living in New York. An English major at Fordham University, she is Copy Chief for the school’s newspaper, The Fordham Ram, and serves as a class senator in the school’s United Student Government. Margaret, originally from Pittsburgh, loves to explore New York City for activities, fun, and food.