In another bizarre case of super parenting, some toddlers are being put through classes at the Baby DJ School in Brooklyn. The program was designed by composer and performance artist Natalie Weiss. She started off last September with six students aged between 9 and 20 months.
31-year-old Weiss said she got the idea when she took her DJ equipment to a friend’s house. “I was babysitting a little boy named Rider. He’s one-and-a-half. And I had my laptop and my midi trigger with me because I had a gig after. I asked him, ‘Do you want to see how it works?’ And he loved it! Seeing him have that enthusiasm and innocence and joy talking about pieces of electrical equipment, that’s when I said like, it’s time to educate kids about this stuff.”
So Weiss began to write songs that teach kids about disc jockeying and electronic music. One of the songs goes: ‘The midi-trigger’s connected to the laptop, the laptop’s connected to the PA’ set to the tune of ‘Dem Bones’ – a baby song about dancing skeletons. There’s one like a little baby rap: “I always, always pre cue, before I play in front of you!”
“I went around and posted on like local blogs and stuff about the class. Someone from the ‘Gothamist’ site wrote an awesome post about it and it got like a trillion Facebook likes and shares and Tweets,” said Weiss.
The first session took place in September last year at Cool Pony, a toy store that also holds events. It did receive a lot of negative reactions, especially hipster backlash. But Weiss said that the class was important because children are often interested in both music and electronics. Looking at a video of the class, it’s pretty evident that the kids were having a good time. Of course, weren’t cooking up chart-busting music, but they seemed to enjoy pushing buttons and playing with the equipment.
In fact, it is also quite obvious that the babies were actually responding to the music. They seemed to ‘get’ what was going on, at least some part of it. “They did tests and it shows that as young as three months, a baby can recall a melody, recall specific musical phrases. That’s why my classes are three months to three years. It’s because that’s the golden period for shaping their minds,” said Weiss.
The parents at the class were just as excited as the little ones. According to Audrey Beerman, who came with her son Ari, most other baby programs were ‘so boring’. “I think anything that gets kids loving music early is great,” she said. Samantha Al-Fayez brought along her 1-year-old son Julien. “He loves gangsta rap,” she said.
“I don’t know if my son will grow up to be a DJ, but maybe, you never know,” one mother said. “I’ve seen my son get way more connected to music. He dances and follows rhythm way more.”
Producer Matt Young said: “When I first heard about the idea, I thought it was totally insane. A then the more I heard about it, the more I realized that it’s actually genius.”
Weiss insists that the class, whatever else it might be, is definitely not hip. She pointed out that there’s a lot of baby talk going on, so if people think ‘Brooklyn’s so hip, they have a baby DJ school,’ then they’re mistaken. There’s no profanity or sexism in any of her DJing work. She even uses a sing-along format to make it more interactive. The songs have lyrics that rhyme so that the technical aspects seem easy. The class helps babies learn gross and fine motor skills, socializing skills, taking turns and rhythm, which helps with language.
“My songs are my babies and so like giving my baby to babies and teaching them, like, to have a relationship like that – it’s been a really special thing for me,” said Weiss.