by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Laurie Berkner is no fly-by-night children’s music artist. My sons, who have loved her since they were toddlers, still regularly sing along to her tunes, particularly “We Are Dinosaurs” and “Monster Boogie.” The latter may just be their favorite, as evidenced by their obsession with a.) watching the video over and over again, b.) making monster masks, per Laurie’s instructions at the end of said video, and c.) running around like monsters screaming “rawr!” after watching the video EVERY SINGLE TIME!!
Rockmommy: We LOVE the new Monster Boogie book. How did the idea to make a book come along?
Laurie Berkner: I was originally thinking that I would like to turn some of my lullabies into books. When I pitched the idea to Simon and Schuster they suggested doing a series of three books, only one of which turned out to be a lullaby. Monster Boogie was the third title they chose, and I thought it was a great idea!
Rockmommy: How did you write the original “Monster Boogie?” Do you remember how that idea came up?
Laurie Berkner: I wrote it for a class I was taking on how to teach kids music using the Dalcroze Eurythmics method. (It’s a method that teaches music through movement.) I don’t remember what inspired it exactly, but I thought it would be fun to write a song about monsters that was NOT scary, since so many kids are afraid of monsters.
Rockmommy: How old is your daughter now? Is she a music person, or does she help you out in any way with Laurie Berkner Band stuff?
Laurie Berkner: She is 14 now and sings, plays the drums, and writes songs on the ukulele. She is always happy to give me feedback on a song or anything else I’m working on, and she also sometimes works in my office. Right now she is officially in charge of taking pictures and video for my Instagram story!
Rockmommy: You have really great staying power — my kids always come back to you and your music. Why do you think they relate to your songs so well?
Laurie Berkner: That is a great question … I’m not really sure, other than that I really try to write a lot of my songs from a kids’ perspective. I think that creates a feeling of ownership, of the music really being theirs. I also try to make sure there is always at least one thing in each song that kids can really connect to, like a movement or an image or a rhythm.
Rockmommy: What other news is going on? What kind of shows are you playing?
Laurie Berkner: My big news is that I just created a new audio series for Audible.com! It’s called Laurie Berkner’s Song and Story Kitchen, and it’s ten different stories with music that I wrote and narrated, featuring characters from my songs like Oscar Beebee the Bumblebee and Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco who are ferret cousins. Each story starts and ends in my song and story kitchen where I make something yummy with my friend, Thelonius Pig (acted by Josiah Gaffney).
I also have a bunch of special themed shows coming up. Halloween shows in New York and California in October, and winter holiday shows with the whole band in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in December.
Rockmommy: Also, let’s say guitar-playing moms want to write songs for/with their own kids. Any suggestions on how to start that process?
Laurie Berkner: I think the best way to write a song for kids is to listen to what they are saying, watch what they’re doing, and think about what they enjoy. Then use those things as inspiration to develop songs that are relevant and interesting to them. And try singing the songs with them while you’re writing them! You’ll see right away what works and what doesn’t.
For more on Laurie’s show dates, visit LaurieBerkner.com.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.