Thursday, June 17, 2010

Evil Musical Earworms

Two more days to go with the kids. It seems to be getting easier. The kids have settled down some. I'm more used to them. And I think it helps that I'm getting to know them as individuals instead of as an amorphous blob of kids.

The one thing I'm not crazy about is, surprisingly for a choir chick, the music. The music seems specifically designed to irritate me. Back in the Dark Ages when I was in Vacation Bible School, the kinds of songs we did were the children's church classics like "This Little Light of Mine," "Jesus Loves the Little Children," and, because this was in the 70s, "Joy to the World" -- not the Christmas carol, but the Three Dog Night song, the one that starts with "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." Only, there was a church version that started "Jeremiah was a prophet." I don't remember the rest of the church version lyrics of the verses, but the chorus was the focus, "Joy to the world, all the boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, and joy to you and me."

But now, they seem to have some kind of standardized, pre-fab curriculum, and it includes songs written specifically for the theme, complete with very elaborate choreography. It's a lot to try to learn in fifteen minutes a day for four days (we do the program for the parents tonight). I'm good at learning music, and I haven't learned the songs yet. I'm not even trying to learn all the motions because they involve things I currently can't do with this wonky shoulder (at least, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it). However, the fact that the kids are barely trying to sing these songs isn't much of an issue because this is going to be a Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus type performance, "sung" with recorded tracks.

And that's the part that's giving me nightmares (literally) because the recording is supposedly sung by children, but it sounds more like adult voice actors doing fake "child" voices, with maybe some studio magic to create the choir effect. If it is real children, then they're Broadway baby-bots, the kind of kids who are cast in productions of Annie not so much because they want to do it but because their pushy stage mothers want them to do it. It sounds kind of like the group production numbers for a children's beauty pageant. The songs themselves are terrible earworms, and that's why I'm hearing the fake Broadway baby-bots singing them with feigned loud enthusiasm in my sleep. I start to twitch and whimper every time that CD comes on. They could send that CD to Guantanamo Bay as a replacement for waterboarding, except Amnesty International would instantly protest and suggest that waterboarding might be a kinder alternative.

My kids, at least, don't seem to be connecting much with the songs. They don't even try to sing along in the opening and closing assemblies, and the boys moaned and groaned and claimed that they didn't sign up for this when they found out that they'd have to sing this stuff in a program. I have issues with pre-recorded music in performances. I find it distancing. I also think these songs and all the motions are pretty complex to learn so quickly. You can either get singing or get a hand or arm motion to go with each word. They'd probably get more participation with a piano and a few familiar songs they've heard before and might have occasion to sing again. These songs, they'll probably never even think of again, and that's probably for the best. I wish I could never think of them again. I may have to find some less-annoying earworms to replace them before I go mad.

I've just about given up on accomplishing much, work-wise, this week. I'm utterly drained when I get home, and I'm in a pretty tricky spot of the book that will require a lot of thought. Instead, I'm doing some work-related reading. Tonight I have to go back (whimper) for the program and reception with the parents.

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