This week, I’m bringing something that should be of interest for the young ones stuck at home (and their parents, as well). Children’s singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner has put together a live feature on her Facebook page that just might keep the little ones entertained every weekday around 10 a.m., so I gave her a call one afternoon last month to find out more about this new project she’s got going on. I reached Berkner at her New York City home and began by stating:

Q: Usually at this point of the interview I ask, “Have you ever performed in Maine before?” But seeing you won’t be performing in Maine, per se, I’ll simply ask this, “How are things going with you?”
Berkner: Ah, they’re good, I feel like I’m actually working much longer days than I can remember in a long time (giggle).

Q: Oh, is that a good thing?
Berkner: Yeah, I think it’s good. I mean, I’m doing a lot right now — as much as I can do. It’s like stuff that I can do to make things better right now, not necessarily to bring in any income — I’m obviously not doing concerts. A lot of it is because I’m doing Facebook Lives every morning, so there’s a bunch of hours every day prepping for it, setting up plans for it, having a meeting beforehand, doing it, having a meeting afterwards — so that’s like taking up a big chunk of every day. But that means trying to fit everything else in after that is just a little harder — but I really enjoy doing it.

Q: Have you been getting any feedback on your efforts so far?
Berkner: We’ve gotten such amazing responses from people and they seem so grateful to have the time with their kids that’s like fun and where they’re engaged, and some are even feeling a lot of nostalgia — if they have older kids. The performance itself is very joyful, so it feels like it’s worth all the work around it.

Q: Well, seeing nobody’s coming to Maine to perform nowadays, I decided to check out some of the online stuff that’s becoming available — that’s the reason I got ahold of you: to have you talk a little about the programs that you do, how folks can find them, that type of thing. From what I understand, what you are doing is aimed at the younger kids who may not understand the true impact behind what’s happening around them. You seem to be giving them a diversion, something that’s pleasurable for them.
Berkner: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do — it’s pleasurable, it’s active, it’s interactive, and it’s consistent … that is one of the things that I feel like is really helpful to people right now so they can plan ahead.

Q: How so?
Berkner: Well, parents can go and say, “Okay, tomorrow we’re going to get up we’re going to do this at 10!” We’ll have a music time, there will be movement involved, there will be interactivity and fun things, and they by 10:30 —or somewhere around that time — it’ll be over and they can go and do something else, but they at least have that as part of their day, and it’s a fun way to start the day. So that is what we’re trying to provide.

Q: How long have you been doing this?
Berkner: Ah, I’ve been doing this for the last 25 years.

Q: Well, ah…
Berkner: Oh, you mean the Facebook Live stuff (laughter). The kids’ music has been 25 years, the Facebook Live has been a week — we started last Thursday. We had one on Sunday at 4 p.m. and otherwise it’s weekdays at 10. It’ll probably be now and then on the weekends, but I want to keep the 10 a.m. Eastern weekdays pretty consistent so people know that they can tune in and I’ll be there.

Q: Is this something you can do out of your home?
Berkner: Yeah, I’ve been doing it out of my living room.

Q: So what makes up this 10 a.m. program?
Berkner: Well, we’re sort of, as they say, building the airplane as we’re flying it. Today, our first Wednesday, we decided to make it “What’s The Word” Wednesday, so that will be our theme day, and today’s word was “transportation,” so I did songs about rocket ships, trains, planes, trucks, cars, those kind of things. Each of the Lives are between 20 and 30 minutes and sometimes I’ll read a book, sometimes it’s all songs — we’ll keep coming up with things as we go along. Tomorrow is pajama day, so I’m going to wear my pajamas and sing about the book I’m going to read called “Pillow Land” — everybody in the book wears pajamas all day long. So I’m going to try to mix it up.

Q: This “new normal” could go on for quite a while.
Berkner: If it does go on for a long time, there will probably be the addition of cooking and crafts and things like that as I start to get bored with just singing.

Q: Oh?!
Berkner: (Laughter) I guess that’s not really true, I’d never get bored with just singing, but just to mix it up a little.

Q: Just out of curiosity, it is hard writing songs for kids?
Berkner: I don’t feel that way, I love it — I feel like that’s what I do well. I wrote songs for adults for a while when I was in different rock bands when I was younger — and that was fine — but I really love a little bit more of a tighter format of writing songs for kids. … I found myself being much more creative doing that, so I like it. I figured out that my spiritual inner child is about 4 (chuckle), so I like the kinds of things that we’re doing, I enjoy it, and it feels good to connect with kids at that age.

Q: One final question for you — How does one go about connecting to these programs?
Berkner: It’s on our Facebook page — the Laurie Berkner Band — and it will be posted right at 10 a.m. when we start. There will also be other postings three times a day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram … at 7 a.m. we have a “Berkner Breakfast,” and then at 10, I do the Live on Facebook, and then we post on all the socials at 3 p.m.: a “Berkner Break” that has an educational format or is movement-based; and then in the evening there’s “Berner Bedtime,” which is either a lullaby or something about a bedtime ritual like brushing your teeth or taking a bath. So there are songs and ideas posted all day long, there are a lot of resources for parents and, hopefully, fun things for kids to do along the way — and the responses I’ve been getting so far makes it worth getting up and doing the Facebook Live in the morning! (Laughter)

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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