UConn News HomeUConn News

Music Professor Releases Children's Folk Music CD
(Released: June 19, 2002)

By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Listen to most children's CDs, and you'll quickly notice that many of them feature professional adult singers. But a CD now being released by Mary Ellen Junda, a University of Connecticut professor and nationally recognized child development vocal specialist, features folk songs sung by children who sound both childlike and professional.

"I wanted people to realize that children are capable of singing artistically and in tune," says Junda, director of Treblemakers, an associate professor of music, and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts.

Earlier this year, Junda released "Singing with Treblemakers: Our Favorite Folk Songs," which features nine young performers singing 23 folk songs. The singers, between 11 and 14 years old, were all members of Treblemakers, a choir Junda created in 1992 in the College of Continuing Studies' Community School of the Arts.

According to Junda, the CD provides children from five to 10 years old with age-appropriate songs and vocals that fit a child's singing range. The recording features an eclectic selection of folk songs from numerous musical traditions including African, British and Native American.

To decide which songs to record, Junda researched several genres of American folk songs then sang them to her seven-year-old son Nikolas. The tunes he was still singing days later, which included "Alouette," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "Froggie Went A Courtin,'" were put on the CD.

"They're in the body of American folk songs that children should know," says Junda.

To record the CD, Junda needed a handful of singers who could handle the rigors of producing a professionally recorded disc. She eventually selected nine singers from the 35-member choir to perform on the CD.

"These children definitely had both maturity and musical skill," Junda says. It took a strong blend of both to make the CD, which took a year to record and required the singers to make frequent trips to a Wallingford studio. During the process, the performers bonded and became friends, Junda says. They also exhibited true professionalism, often being harder on themselves than the adults were.

"Their ears were as good as their voices, if not better," says Junda, noting that the singers sometimes asked to redo a song if they thought they could do better. "They were more critical than I was."

"I think it made all our dreams come true as musicians and as artists," said singer Meghan Gerrity, who will be a junior at Tolland High School in the fall, of an experience she deems "life-altering."

Four UConn students were among those who provided instrumental accompaniment.

This is the second Treblemakers CD Junda has produced. In 1998, she released "Singing with Treblemakers: Songs for Young Singers," which featured 14 performers, one of whom is also on the latest CD. The first disc received a coveted Parents' Choice Gold Award from the Parents' Choice Foundation. During the 2002-2003 academic year, Junda plans to begin working on a third Treblemakers CD.

The discs are available at the UConn Co-op or http://www.cdbaby.com.

June 2002 Releases
UConn News Homepage