Review by Ali Wilkinson
My son Grady loves to sing. From the moment he wakes up, to moments before he falls asleep he’s singing. He knows the standards – “Mary had a Little Lamb,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and so forth. But he is also fond of the local kindie bands, Music Together songs, and is quite the font of original songs as well. So when Jeff Inlay (otherwise known as Mr. Hoo of the Alphabeticians) approached me about having Grady record his very own album with Kids Recording Studio, I jumped at the chance.
I was not sure how Grady would react to the recording process. While at home the kid does not stop talking (I mean seriously, he does. not. stop. talking), Grady tends to be shyer when we go to see music. He will clap at the end of a song, and occasionally sing along quietly or do some hand movements, but for the most part he is taking in the experience. He’s also only 2, so I just wasn’t sure what to expect. But Grady opened right up. There were several reasons for this I think. First and foremost, Mr. Hoo came to our house. Because we were in a familiar environment, Grady felt very comfortable. It also helped that Grady has seen Mr. Hoo perform many times, and that Mr. Hoo is so great with kids. From the moment Mr. Hoo got down on his knees and started doing vocal warmups with Grady, Grady was sold. I think it also helped that I talked him through the experience beforehand, so he knew what to expect.
All in all, Grady ended up recording 21 songs in the 45 minutes or so that Mr. Hoo was with us – about 20 minutes of music altogether. Some songs were originals - like “Squirrel Song” (“I love a squirrel, I love a squirrel”); “Lid Song” (“I love a lid, I love a lid”); Mallet song (can you guess?). There were also some standards (“Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Twinkle, Twinkle”). And of course, some Alphabeticians songs (“Monkey on My Shirt,” “Hoo’s Afraid of the ABCs”). The songs you choose are up to you.
I would say that the hardest for Grady to sing – and the hardest for Jeff to edit later – was “Monkey on My Shirt” because Grady was listening to the song on headphones while singing. We didn’t practice this at all at home, and you could tell it threw him. The end product ended up sounding great – it sounds like he’s singing along with Mr. E, the other half of the Alphabeticians – but you may want to practice with headphones on your kids if you want to record a song this way.
Another cool thing about the experience is that you get to design your own album cover. Grady ended up not wanting to draw a picture for it, so I sent Jeff several photos of Grady from the photo shoot, and some photos of him and his sister Clara making music together. Jeff then made the images into the cover, although you are welcome to design the whole thing yourself if you’d like. Here’s how ours came out.
Really the Kids Recording Studio idea is brilliant. We don’t think twice about getting professional photos taken of our kids, but we seldom think to capture their voices in a similar, professional quality way. By recording an album, you preserve your child’s singing in a way that your smart phone or tape deck (do they even have such things anymore?) cannot. Jeff makes the process painless, and did a great job editing the 45 minutes or so of Grady singing and goofing around into 20 truly precious minutes that our family will treasure. These also make pretty sweet gifts. We will be ordering several copies for the holidays. And may or may not be sending a few copies out to local radio stations…. You can hear samples of Grady singing on the Kids Recording Studio website here.
Ali was comped the recording session and one CD. She was not compensated for this review.