Debbie Cavalier, Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee College of Music's online extension school, Berkleemusic. Cavalier leads the development of Berklee's award-winning distance learning courses and is a frequent speaker at national distance learning conferences. A prolific author, Cavalier has penned over one hundred music education methods and arrangements and is an active children's music artist with Debbie and Friends.
What an honor it was for Debbie and Friends to participate in Berklee’s Early Childhood Symposium on April 9, 2012. The symposium was sponsored by Berklee’s Music Education Dept, under the leadership of Dr. Cecil Adderley, and included presentations and performances by Paul Reisler, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and Debbie and Friends. It was a very special day with Berklee students, faculty, staff, and lots of families from the greater Boston area all focused on making music together.
Here’s a picture of Berklee’s Music Ed Majors on stage with Debbie and Friends having a great time with the kids and families in attendance. This was particularly special to me being an alumna of that program.
Debbie and Friends with Berklee’s Music Ed Majors
Berklee constantly strives to be a great place to learn, teach, and work. Events like the Early Childhood Symposium are just one more example of this.
On Saturday morning, March 24, Debbie and Friends performed a show at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA (just outside of Boston). Our five-piece band performed songs and had a great time interacting with the kids and families in the audience; including many Berkleemusic families.
Many of you know Berkleemusic as the award-winning online school where you study with musicians from all around the world, learn from Berklee faculty, and connect with our advisors and customer service folks for support. You may not be aware that Berkleemusic is comprised of a staff of nearly 50 people, all of whom are passionate about music and the work we do to provide music education opportunities to musicians all over the world. And, most of the staff are musicians, too.
The show on Saturday included guest performances by two of my Berkleemusic colleagues: Milan Kovacev and Luke Stevens.
The following is a picture of Milan Kovacev—Berkleemusic’s Director of Interactive Marketing—joining us on bass. Milan is also the creative force behind Hipson Music and Clash of Civilizations.
Milan Kovacev with Debbie & Friends
Also joining Debbie and Friends that morning was Luke Stevens, our Web Software Developer. Luke plays a mean Ukelele (among other things) and has been known to lead office jam sessions from time to time when he’s not working on improving the online learning environment for our students.
Luke Stevens with Debbie and Friends
Berklee really is a great place to learn, teach and work. I’m happy to introduce you to some of the many folks who help to make it so.
Debbie and Friends has a song on an album that was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in the Children’s Music Category! “Walk Away” is our song on the anti-bullying compilation called All About Bullies Big And Small. It is one of five nominees for Best Children’s Album this year! The winner will be announced at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony on Feb. 12.
Here’s the cartoon music video version of our song that is on the nominated CD.
Debbie and Friends is working on our first-ever Christmas song called “Santa & Baby.” The song’s groove is inspired by the Spin Doctors and the song itself inspired by this picture of my friend’s dog named Baby.
Baby! Photo by Beth Oram Photography.
Our friends at Planet Sunday are hard at work on the cartoon version while my producer, Michael Carrera and I finish up the production of the recording. Below is an “animation rough” also known as a storyboard. The finished version of this cartoon music video will be ready in time for Christmas 2011.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we always like to give our fan families an inside view as what’s in the works with Debbie and Friends!
Enjoy the (preproduction) story of “Santa & Baby”!
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?
Debbie and Friends is hard at work on our new DVD to be released on March 29, 2011.
On December 18, we performed a live action concert shoot for the DVD at Berklee’s CAFE 939 with 100 of our fan families. The following is a fun “Outtakes Video” featuring some special moments from that day.
The families that were part of the shoot are thrilled to be part of our new release, and I couldn’t be happier to have them included. Making your fans part of your products is just another level of fan engagement. Do you have examples of engaging your fan in this way? Please post your stories and ideas.
I’m excited to share a brand new cartoon music video from my kids/family music project, Debbie and Friends. The song is based on the classic tale of Cinderella with a few twists including a focus on friendship and self esteem for girls.
From the onset of the project, I wanted to make sure our fan families were involved in the production. We launched a “fairy selection” vote via our Debbie and Friends Facebook page and asked our fan families to help shape our version of the Cinderella story song by voting on one of the following fairies.
The fairy “Godfather” won by an overwhelming majority!
So, my producer Michael Carrera and I worked on some dialog, and then he summoned his best “Brando” voice for the recording.
We launched the new cartoon on our YouTube channel yesterday and the response has been very strong. Our fan families feel a real connection to the piece having been involved in the storyline and character selection from the beginning.
Presenting “Cinderella” by Debbie and Friends. I hope you enjoy it!
Special thanks to Planet Sunday of Wales. They are brilliant animators and add so much creativity, humor, and quality to everything they do.
I’m pleased to share a piano method booklet for children that I developed with my Grandfather, Marty Gold. Marty is a wonderful musician who has enjoyed an amazing career in music. In fact, he’s the reason I became a musician. Recently, he told me about a piano “tent” he created to help kids learn the names of notes on a music staff. The story goes that Nabisco was going to put one in every cereal box back in the 1950s, and then pulled the project for fear there were not enough pianos in US homes. We decided to do the project together and make it available to friends of “Debbie and Friends.”
The following widget has a download link for a free copy of the Learning to Play Piano book and piano tent PDF files. A printed version of the book will be available soon. In the meantime, please let me know how the tent and method book are for your children!
As many of you know, I have a kids/family project called Debbie and Friends. One of the most rewarding aspects is interacting with our fan families and making them proactive contributors to our overall plans, including song and video production.
A recent example is “casting” the part of the fairy for our new song about Cinderella. We offered up half a dozen “fairy” characters for our fan families to weigh in on and we received more than 100 enthusiastic votes!
The Fairy Godfather won. We are having a great time working on his lines! The song and the cartoon are currently in production.
Here’s a “sneak preview” into the music and animation (currently in development) that we recently shared with our fan families via Facebook and our Kids’ Music blog.
Our fan families are always part of our new product development process from start to finish. This kind of engagement not only furthers our relationship, but also makes for a better product!
The final version will be released in December.
No matter the genre, fan engagement is important! What are some of the ways you involve your fans?