Mick Jagger and his band mates in The Rolling Stones have been entertaining audiences for over half a century. Aerosmith has been going near as long. And others are right up in those same leagues, too. But none of those artists and bands in question can say that they’re at the level of one Ella Jenkins. “The First Lady of Children’s Music” as she is affectionately known by her fellow artists is ninety-years old. And now at ninety-years old, Jenkins has a new “hits” compilation of sorts set to be released. 123s and ABCs will be released next Tuesday, January 28th. The compilation collects pieces that Jenkins has included in previous recordings. The recordings in question are more proof of what makes children’s recordings in question so interesting and enjoyable to review. Simply put, none of the pieces included on this record are anything like anything recorded by any other children’s entertainer to date.
The songs culled for 123s and ABCs are unlike anything recorded by any other children’s entertainer to date. That is an especially powerful statement considering that the tracks presented here are pulled from Jenkins’ previous recordings. While she does directly speak to young listeners at times, she seems to spend more time talking to children with whom she recorded the respective pieces. This focus less on listeners makes 123s and ABCs more a tool for teachers of young listeners. Some might see this as a bad think. But in reality, it takes nothing away from this compilation. It helps give preschool and kindergarten teachers plenty of ideas for their own students in many cases. One of the best examples of this is in Jenkins’ teaching of the numbers one through ten in both Spanish and Swahili.
In the cases of ‘Counting from One to Ten in Spanish’ and ‘Counting in Swahili’, Jenkins is teaching a group of young children already in attendance how to count to ten in both languages. She uses a call and response format in order to keep the terms fresh in her listeners’ minds. This is quite a smart teaching method. Teachers could easily adapt the prior of the pair for their own classrooms and use it as the beginning of a more extended lesson on basic Spanish. Considering the push for students to learn foreign languages, what better time to get students started than in their most pivotal developmental years? In the case of ‘Counting in Swahili’, even adults will enjoy this short lesson. That is because far fewer Americans have knowledge of even basic Swahili than do those with basic knowledge and comprehension of Spanish. Keeping this in mind, ‘Counting in Swahili’ could be a wonderful chance for parents and their children to learn together. It could also be just as effective a tool for a basic cultural lesson about native speakers of Swahili. It serves to make this compilation all the more enjoyable for teachers, students, and children in general.
‘Counting in Swahili’ is a hugely effective song for teachers. As noted, it can serve as a basic introduction to a rarely taught foreign language. It also could serve as a window to a much more in-depth cultural lesson for younger listeners and students. Much the same can be noted of ‘The Rabbi Teaches ABCs/English ABC Song.’ This hybrid piece opens with violist Arnold Radel performing a traditional Jewish composition. He follows this by explaining how children learned their ABCs in Yiddish in the cold winter months, no source of heat in their homes save for a fire in the stoves in their kitchens. This vivid description alone makes Radel’s performance even more hard hitting. One can actually close one’s eyes, and see this scene, Radel’s music as a bed. Whether one has any comprehension of Yiddish or not, this song could be a great stepping stone for those that might end up developing an interest in the language or even the culture of those that speak the language. It’s one more example of the kind of material that makes 123s and ABCs such an interesting compilation of songs. Teachers and parents are offered plenty more ingenious ideas how to teach young listeners the basics throughout the course of the compilation’s sixteen total songs. 123s and ABCs can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H8RREL6/ref=s9_simh_gw_p15_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1AQT2M8K05BB6QZ3MD0D&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. More information on Jenkins and her releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ella.jenkins.sfw and http://www.ellajenkins.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.