The children's musical act Macaroni Soup!, headed by Carole Stephens, will be performing on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival in downtown Geneva. The free show is scheduled for 11 a.m. on the Campbell Street Stage, which is on the south side of the Kane County Courthouse. It's sure to be a fun show for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners and other young kids. My daughter and I have seen Macaroni Soup! perform the last three years at the Geneva Public Library, and the CD "Sticky Bubble Gum" is on heavy rotation in our car.
Stephens' CDs have won the Parents' Choice, I-Parenting Media, Creative Children, Mom's Choice and Children's Music Web Awards. At the end of this article, you'll learn how you can win two Macaroni Soup CDs!
But first, here's excerpts from an interview I did with Stephens last week about her background, her belief in the power of music and to get a sneak peek at what families can expect at Saturday's show.
Q. How did you get started in performing for children?
A. My background is performing. I got a B.S. in musical theater from Northwestern University, and for many years, I was an actress. When I had my own kids, my girlfriend and I took our kids to a Mom & Tot music class. ... Our kids were bored. We said, 'We can do better than this.' We started our own music classes, telling friends. That was 23 years ago! We started out as music and music education for little people, we did a class at a museum, then a preschool, and it took off.
Q. What is your musical teaching career like now?
A. I teach between 16 and 20 classes a week. I also have classes in the summertime for older kids. I have a musical theater class that I only do in the summer, through sixth grade. We produce two shows in the summertime - we make the sets, props, costumes, everything for the show. I teach in Glenview, Highland Park and Mt. Prospect.
This has become something of a calling for me. So many children nowadays don't sing. Teachers are afraid to sing, so I do workshops for preschool teachers, who don't have great voices or are shy. I teach them simple, easy, fun songs that kids are going to ask for everyday.
A. If you look back to the 1960s, that was the heyday of people singing in public. People weren't shy about singing in public. Today's generation of parents grew up in the '70s and '80s with disco and rap, it's hard to sing along to that. ... Take a look at the ballpark. How many people are actually singing along to the national anthem?
(As a result) kids aren't singing as much. I try to get families to sing together and make music together ... grab the Tupperware out of the drawer and march around the house. Kids are born with pitch and rhythm ... they lose it if they don't actively reinforce it.
By not making music with children, we're doing them a disservice. In order to read, children have to be able to keep a beat. So many early literacy skills can be learned and reinforced during music time.
So find places to make music. Go to a music class, go to a concert. Not all music classes are a perfect fit. If you've gone to three or four and your child isn't enjoying it, find another one.
Q. In addition to your classes and workshops, you perform as Macaroni Soup! What should families expect at your concert on Sept. 29 at the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival?
A. I love fall. I have non-scary songs about pumpkins and bats and fun things like that. We'll have everybody flying around like bats and making a jack-o-lantern. We'll be doing the "pumpkin pokey," instead of the "hokey pokey." The fun thing about music is that it reaches children of all abilities. This will be fun for the kids, and hopefully the parents, too.
It's a family concert -- we encourage people to participate with their children. This isn't a sit and watch concert. It's a get up and do. It's a singalong, dancealong, do-along show.
Now for the giveaway:
One lucky Go West reader will win two Macaroni Soup CDs: "H.U.M. All Year Long" and "Dancing Feet."
Here are the ways to enter:
- What is your child's or children's favorite song to since or dance to? Answer in the comments section below. Make sure to include your email so we can contact you if you win.
- Share this post on your favorite social media site and get an additional entry. Come back to the comments section and let us know you shared it. If possible, include a link. Get an additional entry for each share.
Here’s the fine print: No purchase necessary. Contest will end at 8 p.m. Central time on Friday, Sept. 28. Winner will be picked at random by random.org. Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Prize is valued at $30.
Good luck! We hope to see you in the audience at the Macaroni Soup! concert on Saturday at 11 a.m. And don't forget to sing with your kids!
Congratulations, Cortney! Your family is the winner of two Macaroni Soup CDs. Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to Miss Carole for making this giveaway possible.