Junda's CD Showcases Children
Singing Folk Songs for Children
By Allison Thompson
Listen to most children's CDs, and you'll notice that many of them feature professional adult singers. Mary Ellen Junda, a UConn faculty member and nationally recognized child development vocal specialist, has released a CD of folk songs sung by children who sound both childlike and professional.
"I wanted people to realize that children are capable of singing artistically and in tune," says Junda, director of Treblemakers, an associate professor of music and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts.
Earlier this year, Junda released the CD "Singing with Treblemakers: Our Favorite Folk Songs," featuring nine young performers singing 23 folk songs. The singers, between 11 and 14 years old, were all members of Treblemakers, a choir Junda created at the College of Continuing Studies' Community School of the Arts.
Junda says the CD provides children from five to 10 with age-appropriat e songs and vocals that fit their singing range. The recording features an eclectic selection of folk songs from a wide range of musical traditions, including African, British and Native American.
To decide which songs to record, Junda researched several genres of folk songs and then sang them to her seven-year-old son Nikolas. The tunes he was still singing days later - such as "Alouette," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "Froggie Went A Courtin'" - were included on the CD.
"They're in the body of folk songs that children should know," says Junda.
Junda selected nine singers from the 35-member choir to perform on the CD.
"These children definitely had both maturity and musical skill," she says. It took a strong blend of both to handle the rigors of producing a professionally recorded disc, which took a year in the making and required the singers to make frequent trips to a Wallingford studio.
Four UConn students were among those who provided instrumental accompaniment.
Junda says the performers exhibited true professionalism. "Their ears were as good as their voices, if not better," she says, noting that the singers sometimes asked to redo a song if they thought they could do better: "They were more critical than I was."
Singer Meghan Gerrity of Tolland High School says the experience altered her life. "I think it made all our dreams come true as musicians and as artists," she says.
This is the second Treblemakers CD Junda has produced. In 1998, she released "Singing with Treblemakers: Songs for Young Singers," which received a coveted Gold Award from the Parents' Choice Foundation. Junda plans to begin working on a third CD next year.
The discs are available at the UConn Co-op or http://www.cdbaby.com.