How Becoming a New Mother Has Changed this Musician’s Approach to Kids’ Songs
I’m thrilled to be writing a piece under my recently acquired title of “new mother.” My daughter is now 3 months old, so I am still very, very new to the whole mommy thing. I am blown away every day by how attached I feel to her and how totally in-love I am…..feeling this while trying to get back to work and “life” is a challenge that is hard to characterize to anyone who has not yet experienced it (right?). I mean, I certainly expected to love her and feel a strong bond, but I’m learning that taking on the role of mother deeply affects all the other roles I take on in my life – wife, daughter, friend, teacher, employee and, of course: as singer, songwriter and entertainer.
I always knew I wanted to be a mother “someday,” and I’ve always loved children and have had a knack with them. I’ve worked with them in some capacity since I was about 10 years old – babysitting, teaching dance or drama, performing for them. But the dream of motherhood took a backseat to other dreams I had growing up. My life ambitions, from a very young age, were to be a professional dancer, singer, and actress and my pursuit of those dreams is what brought me to New York.
Somewhere along the line, my passions for the arts and for children combined into this nifty little career that I have now. One of the things I loved early on in this new niche was teaching the “Babies Class’ (now called Level 1) at Gymboree Play and Music several years ago. What I loved about it was the slowed-down pace, the general feeling of love and acceptance of children just as they were, the way that same love spread out into acceptance and support for the new mothers and fathers. I loved the quietness and the gentleness of that class. I developed a yearning for those feelings and that vibe to be in my life. At the time, I figured that was an indication to the rightness of my new career direction. Now, though, I wonder if this was actually motherhood calling to me.
In these few short months, I’ve often been asked questions about motherhood and music. So how has becoming a mother changed my approach children’s music now? It may be too soon to give a full answer, but I do see a couple of things already emerging.
Up until this point, my target age group has been toddlers and preschoolers. Now, with Piper, I’m getting to re-experience that feeling I had in the Gymboree class at home: connecting to and entertaining a very young baby. It is definitely NOT the same way one entertains the 2-5 year-old set! So, no, my next recording may not be a CD of all lullabies per se, but the songs that I write this year might be a bit quieter and less, um, stimulating than my usual repertoire.
I’m typically all about engaging the kids through music by being silly, or getting them to jump and move their bodies. And often the way I get them involved is by acting very excited myself. And by excited, I mean LOUD. Well, my darling baby girl really, really hates loud sounds. When she’s startled by a loud noise, she gets this distinct frown on her face and starts crying as if someone hurt her feelings. Deeply. It breaks my heart every time! So although in my classes and performances I tend to belt in a loud alto, I find myself constantly speaking and singing in a soft, high soprano voice that she immensely prefers. And honestly, I’m enjoying it myself too! So, as a result of motherhood, Miss Nina’s soprano may emerge a bit more than it used to.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to blend a bit of the old with some of the new for a fresh new approach to my music. I aim to be my usual, high-energy self (although just 3 months after giving birth, I’m still feeling a little sluggish), but perhaps with a softer delivery. I’m sure I’ll have more to report as Piper gets older and I settle into this whole mommy-hood thing a little bit more. Stay tuned!
Nina Stone a.k.a. Miss Nina combines reading and music with “book songs” for children, which can be found on her 2010 award-winning CD “Singing and Dancing Together.” Her latest CD, Sha Doo Be Doop, is available in stores now. Find Miss Nina performing at sing-alongs, bookstores, and events all through the NYC and Tri-State area. Nina lives in Brooklyn with her husband, baby Piper, and their cat, Dwight.