by ADAM CURTIS
Tue, 01/27/2015 – 3:32pm
SIERRA VISTA— Singing the children’s classic “Apples and Bananas,” Dan Crow crossed his eyes each time he ended the repeating verse with a new vowel sound, sending ripples of laughter through the kindergartners gathered inside Pueblo del Sol Elementary School’s cafeteria on Monday.
It’s a song generations of children have sung but locals students got to hear it live from the man who composed a musical score for it in the late 1980s as part of “Oops,” one of his many children’s albums. A former elementary and middle school teacher, Crow’s nearly 40-year career in children’s music has garnered him an Emmy Award, appearances on Nickelodeon and the chance to write songs for The Disney Channel shows “Welcome to Pooh Corner” and “Dumbo’s Circus.”
Having performed for students and families in all 50 states, plus a wide variety of countries, Crow knows how to win over a young audience.
Combining personal anecdotes with whimsical, interactive songs, Crow had the Pueblo del Sol students enchanted, getting them to clap, sing and giggle at all the right times.
It just so happened that they were also learning phonetics as they sang along with simple choruses about kissing cows and eating leftover ham.
That’s how Crow’s musical career started, as a supplement to his work in the classroom.
“I just found music was a good way to get those educational concepts across. Sort of á la ‘Sesame Street,’ ” Crow said. “But it works, because there’s a rhythm to language and a rhythm to learning language … The two tied together really well.”
While he performed for the younger grades on Monday, Tuesday he sang for Pueblo del Sol’s fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. As he moves up the grades his songs change, becoming more complex and introducing different educational ideas. In recent years, as the nation has prioritized STEM education, Crow has added many songs geared to science, technology, engineering and math.
Following his performances at PDS, Crow headed to Village Meadows Elementary School and Bella Vista Elementary School, too.
He came to the area thanks to PDS Parent Teacher Organization President Kenna Gramlich, who paid for his time at PDS with PTO funds.
When she was living in Germany, Gramlich was a member of a parent group that often brought in Crow to perform. She thought it would be particularly good to bring him to Sierra Vista, where many schools have had to cut music out of the elementary school day.
“The kids get a really good kick out of it,”Gramlich said. “He’s really funny, so that helps.”
Crow said he’s always enjoyed writing and recording children’s music. He feels fortunate to have found a niche that allows him to travel all over the world to share his music with schools and families.
“Doing that has been such a blast,” Crow said. Having been at it for over 30 years, he now has generations upon generations growing up and returning to see him with their own kids.
“I see the world and I get to have fun and be silly,” Crow said.
Between a guitar named “Bob,” a Banjo named “Cindy,” and a Hum-A-Zoo named “Dot,” Crow infuses each instrument with the same sense of whimsy that can be heard in each of his songs. As he performed on Monday, Crow became the biggest kid in the room.