Dr. Gwendolyn McGraw stumbled across research showing that parents bought lullaby CDs for their children that they never used. She decided to make one they would actually play. And so was born Rhapsody Records, a Sacramento-based children’s music company.
| “Making these CDs was a labor of love for me. I care so much about them and doing good with them.” — Dr. Gwendolyn McGraw
After experiencing success with “Love Me Tender,” a compilation of soothing songs to be played at night, she recently introduced her second CD, “Love Me Playful,” a fun musical romp for parents and kids alike. The award-winning album features almost 50 minutes of interactive and playful songs, giving parents the opportunity to bond with their children. Both CDs are part of the Songs of Peace and Play series.
An award-winning children’s artist and music specialist, McGraw is also chair of music education at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. As such, she worked on the CDs methodically, spending three years researching what was already available in the marketplace and what was missing. She soon discovered the problem: Although most people speak to infants and toddlers in “softer and higher-pitched voices,” CDs mixed and mastered for babies use normal speaking tones.
McGraw recorded her music in a voice that babies were familiar with and could easily locate within the music.
“My idea behind the [playtime] recordings was to be very playful,” McGraw said. And it seems to be working. McGraw said one mother of an 8-week-old infant told her that as soon as she turned on the Playful CD, her baby wants to play.
“Once baby recognizes a familiar voice after playing the CD awhile, she understands that it’s playtime during the day,” McGraw said. “And then, when she hears the familiar lullaby CD, she knows it’s nighttime, time for relaxing and then sleep.”
And that’s the concept with which McGraw approached these musical compilations. “These are infant-directed songs — more dramatic, higher-pitched vocals and baby-friendly,” she said. “However, they are not obnoxious to adults.”
That was something she worked hard on, finding what worked for babies and parents. All songs were tested on parents and other adults, gaining feedback to use when finalizing the CDs, without jeopardizing what she was trying to do for the children. After all, if parents don’t like their children’s music, they may not play it. “The ‘Love Me Playful’ CD was designed to be interactive with music for the parent and child before the child can sing,” she said.
“Making these CDs was a labor of love for me. I care so much about them and doing good with them,” she said.
Love Me Playful was named as one of the “Best Children’s Products of 2005" by Dr. Toy. McGraw was joined by Craig Long, a Sacramento recording engineer, to produce the CDs.
The Love Me Playful CD is accompanied by an activity booklet that includes movement and dancing; playing instruments; using puppets, balls and bubbles and time-honored music-play games.