16 May Krissy Mondelli of Family Music Duo Todd’n’Tina Shares Why Her Creative Outlet is so Critical
In the summer of 2020, my friend Todd called me up and asked if I wanted to work on new music together. It wasn’t a complete surprise — Todd and I have collaborated on lots of musical jingles he’s written for various companies. But we hadn’t jammed in a while prior to the summer of 2020, when the world shut down, because I’d been too busy balancing my job as an elementary school music teacher with mom life.
So when he called me ask asked me jump into his latest brainstorm — a silly song about a dermatologist who also wanted to be an astronaut — I said yes! Todd’s a parent like me, and understood how badly I needed a fun, creative outlet.
Writing songs was Todd’s way of scratching the creative itch during the difficult year. I’m a music teacher, and while I had found many creative ways to connect with music during our emergency learning time in the spring of 2020, it didn’t compare to creating music with others (unless you count my own children, who were 11 and 10 at the time, and were my “helpers” in my YouTube video lessons).
One thing led to another, and ten songs later, Todd’n’Tina was born.
It wasn’t something we’d planned. But Todd’s vision and general life philosophy — throw something out into the world, and see what will happen — was appealing to me on a creative level. What could really happen, anyway? After all, we were forty-somethings with families, careers, and commitments. Would anyone really listen to what we had to say?
When we released our first album “Dynamite!” in 2022, I was surprised that people, in fact, did want to hear what we had to say about breakfast foods, unicorns, and narwhals — and dental hygiene habits. We began to book live gigs at farmers markets and town celebrations for the summer. Could we entertain a live audience? Turns out that we could.
Today we have released two albums, several music videos, and are working on album #3. That first summer, I realized that Todd’n’Tina was what I had been missing in my life.
Making it Work
I’m sure many moms can relate to the struggle of balancing a career and family life. I love being an elementary educator and feel like a decent mom, most days. When Todd’n’Tina began, it was easy to “fit in” to our family calendar because, frankly, there wasn’t much going on. But as school, sports, and dance began to pick up their schedules where they had left off prior to Covid, I started to worry. How on Earth would I would make my TnT obligations fit into the calendar?
And that’s when I realized I had to make it work. I had to make time for myself. I had to make my own interests a priority. Luckily, my kids are old enough to take care of themselves in a lot of ways, and my husband is incredibly supportive of my music. Todd’n’Tina was the first thing that I had for myself as an individual since I had become a mom, and I became fiercely protective of it.
One of the best parts of Todd’n’Tina, though, is that I get to involve my kids. Todd’s kids and my kids appear in many of our videos willingly. They also share our videos on social media proudly, and even rope their friends into being part of the silliness as well. They sing our songs and have their favorites, and watch us perform. I love that my kids get to see their mom create music, and then share it with others proudly and shamelessly.
They get to see me be my authentic self, unapologetically and completely. It’s these types of lessons that I hope my kids remember and take with them as they become contributors to society.
[SEE RELATED: MAKING THE PARENT BAND WORK]
Krissy Mondelli is a teacher, mom, and vocalist for the Minnesota duo Todd’n’Tina