Today more than ever, video is an essential way to break through the noise and reach new fans with your music. For Debbie and Friends, cartoon music videos are a great vehicle for this.

I’m always pleasantly surprised to learn that families from all over the world discover Debbie and Friends music every day through our YouTube channel and various cable outlets.

Many of our songs are based on classic tales, and therefore well suited for visual presentation. Some of our songs, however, are not based on stories and I was always convinced those songs were not good candidates for video. “Wendell,” for example, is a cumulative movement song about a boy who finds a toy Robot. The Robot adds a new physical challenge with each verse. It’s fun, but I couldn’t imagine it as a video. My amazing animator, Goichi Hirata from Planet Sunday, had another idea. He suggested that we approach it differently than the others and tell the story from the perspective of Wendell’s imagination. For children, the Robot can represent hope and a doorway to, literally and figuratively, scaling walls and overcoming life’s obstacles. Needless to say, I was thrilled with Goichi’s idea and excited to move forward with the project!

To further fan engagement and help with some decisions about the piece, we even hosted a “pick Wendell’s hair color” poll on Facebook. (Purple won) Here are some initial images Goichi designed for the cartoon.

Wendell finds the Toy Robot.
Wendell and the Robot flying.
Wendell and the Robot at the Toy Fair parade.

And, here’s the storyboard version of the animation.

The “Wendell” cartoon music video will be finished in June. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with such talented and creative people as Goichi Hirata and Greg David at Planet Sunday.

How have you used video to expand the reach of your music-related projects?

How about some music with all that candy? Give your trick or treaters a free song download coupon this year (attach it to their candy), compliments of Debbie and Friends!

Get your free, printable song download cards from Debbie and Friends here.


Berklee College of Music is kicking off a brand new a Kids/Family Concert Series beginning this Saturday, January 9th with Debbie and Friends!

The shows will be held in Berklee’s newest performance venue, The Red Room at Cafe 939 located at 939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids, and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Buy 10:00am show tickets here.

Buy 11:30am show tickets here.

Everybody goes home with Debbie and Friends’ tattoos and a free new song download card!

In honor of this new series, the Cactus Club is offering 20% off lunch entrees for anyone with a Debbie and Friends’ concert ticket! The Cactus Club is in the same building as Cafe 939, so you won’t even have to put on your coats to go to lunch!

The band and I hope to see you on Saturday!

- Debbie

Debbie and Friends

Whether online or off, we all want to be part of one.

Berkleemusic’s continuing education students tell us that a sense of community is one of the most important parts of their online educational experience. Throughout a 12-week semester online, students network and study with classmates from all over the world. The course community helps students form lasting connections that live beyond the semester and into their professional lives.

Picture 2

We have a number of tools, both asynchronous and real-time, available to students to foster communication and collaboration in any given Berkleemusic courses. They are a:

Discussion Board

– A “meet and greet” at the beginning of a course
– Lesson-specific questions presented by the instructor
– Student-generated questions or ideas
– Assignment feedback: instructors and classmates review and critique lesson assignments each week.

Chat Tool

The chat tool is used for a weekly office hour also known as a class meeting. The students and instructor spend an hour chatting about the lesson of the week. Sometimes, an instructor will invite a guest artist or industry luminary in to participate in the chat.

In addition to the discussion boards and chat tool, there are instructor announcements, private messaging for confidential exchanges, and even email to help to keep the communication flowing and the course community collaborative.

How important is a sense of community to you in your online education? What are some of the ways that help you feel part of an online course community? What’s lacking? What kind of tools or interactions would you like to see?

I look forward to your responses!

I feel like the luckiest person in the world when performing a Debbie and Friends concert. Last weekend, my trio had the great honor to perform for 300+ kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends at the Needham Public Library in Needham, MA. It was an incredibly moving experience! Everyone was singing and clapping and making music together. Here is a link to some pictures from the day.

Music is important part of a child’s development, and sharing a musical experience provides a powerful bonding connection between parent and child.

I really do feel lucky to be able to share in those musical experiences with children and their families through Debbie and Friends!

Those of you involved in music for young children, please share your experiences here.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

In fact, as a performing musician in today’s self-promoting, DIY world, every one of your shows should be photographed and everyone who is there supporting your music should be included. Take pictures of your fans having a great time at your show, the band performing, the soundman, the club manager… EVERYONE! Then, use your concert pictures as a viral marketing tool!

There are several web-based applications, such as flickr, that will provide storage for your images online, and easy-to-use tools that enable you to share your memories with fans through your email newsletters and Web sites.

Before you know it, your fans will link to the images from within their own blogs and social networking sites, and your gig pictures will quickly become viral marketing vehicles, making more and more people aware of your music!!

Here is an example of a set of pictures from a recent “Debbie and Friends” show. Interesting to note that even though I sent the Flickr link to only a handful of people, the page has been viewed 130 times on flickr as of this post’s writing. The hits came from link-sharing and viral marketing efforts by a few enthusiastic fans.

Sharing pictures after a gig is a great way to help build community with your fans and provide tools that enable them to share their excitement about your music with others.

You really outta be in pictures! More information can be found here.

Just Six Songs

Aug 17 2008

The World in Six Songs by Daniel J. Levitin: Book Cover

Daniel Levitin, author of “This is Your Brain on Music” has a new book entitled “The World in Six Songs.” In it, he says there are just six types of song in all music throughout the ages, and they help tell a story of music and human evolution.

Those six types are:

– Friendship/Social bonding
– Joy
– Comfort
– Knowledge
– Religion
– Love

To hear more about his findings, including some interesting studies on the body’s chemical reaction to music, listen to this ON POINT interview on NPR online. In it, Daniel Levitin shares findings about music and the brain.

Music Mentors

Mar 24 2008

2008 TED Prize winner and renowned author, Dave Eggers has found a way to make a difference for kids in public schools. His 826 Valencia tutoring center has inspired others around the world to open their own volunteer-driven, creative writing labs.

Watching this clip, I couldn’t help but think this same volunteer and mentoring approach can be applied to public school music programs in need of advocacy and support. If your local school music programs are struggling and you’d like to find a way to help, this video clip is sure to inspire some exciting ideas.

Please share your thoughts on how this approach could work for music and the arts.