published: March 26, 2013
With humorous stories, inventive songs, and a creative energy, this musician called upon his audience to sing along and use their imagination.
Dan Crow, a family musician, played a concert to the students of Seoul American Elementary School for “Music in Our Schools” Month. Crow is known for writing scholastic children’s songs that educate the listener through interaction and participation.
Some of his most prolific work has ranged from penning the theme song for “The Adventures of Milo and Otis” to writing educational melodies for Disney shows like “Winnie the Pooh.”
Katie Biggs, who is Kindergarten teacher at the Seoul Elementary, held fundraisers for Dan Crow’s visit to Korea. After seeing him perform a couple times in the past, she rallied for Crow to perform at the school.
According to Biggs, Crow “goes all over the whole United States and over the whole world.” She added, “When he travels, he does his Reading, Writing, and Rhythm school assemblies.”
She emphasized that “He doesn’t only believe in music, but he believes in education . . . He likes to spread the joy of education through his music.”
At Dolphin Theater, the children applauded as Biggs presented the special guest to the stage.
Crow walked up to the microphone with his guitar in hand. He also wore a shirt which read “Music Rocks!” Many students in the theater wore the same one to commemorate “Music in Our Schools” Month, a shirt that Biggs created as a fundraiser.
He opened the show by singing a song about one of his childhood experiences:
taking a bath. Through the tune, Crow showed the influence that childhood has on his songs.
He then asked the children what animal shapes that bubbles could form.
Listening to their responses, he reproduced the sounds of a few animals that students called out for.
On his “hum-a-zoo”, an instrument that makes a buzzing sound when a person hums into it, Crow made the sounds that cows, dogs, and elephants make.
When he attempted to make the sound of a Tyrannosaurus rex, he built the audience up with anticipation.
“You might want to cover your eyes for this,” he said humorously.
In a turn of events, he blew a raspberry sound through his instrument. The kids joined in laughter at his natural wit.
After he finished his first song, he segued into a crowd favorite, “I Had Ham.”
“Now ham’s okay maybe once a day. Or how about once a week. But to have that ham as much as I am No hog’s that good to eat!” he sang.
He eventually performed a song called “Apples and Bananas”, a tune that encouraged students to pronounce vowels. The song illustrated his unique approach and craft of educational songs.
Crow also showed cultural relevancy in a song about the sounds animals make.
He talked about how animals sound different around the world.
“In English, we say a bird goes tweet-tweet. In Spanish, you say a bird goes pyo-pyo-pyo. In Japanese, they say a little bird goes chi-chi-pa-pa”
During the concert, the students paid close attention to his fun trivia and life lessons. He encouraged students to read books and explore them with their imagination.
Through sign language, he taught the students how to say “imagination”and “read” with their fingers. The kids reciprocated his hand movements, showing they learned something new.
After a few more songs that showcased his ability in storytelling, Crow brought out his folk roots by performing a cover medley of American folk tunes.
Some folks songs that he played in the medley were “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, “Skip to my Lou”, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”, and “This Land is Your Land”.
The students chanted the familiar melodies with him, a moment of expression and diversity for all.
Crow ended his set by playing an original composition dedicated to Seoul American Elementary School. He instructed the energetic kids to yell “Seoul” whenever it was said in the song.
“I like Seoul American School! I love Seoul American School! I go to Seoul American School. I get an education and I feel so cool!” he harmonized.
When he finished his last note, the crowd applauded at the smiling musician.
“That was fun!” he concluded.
After the performance, Dan Crow was kind enough to answer a few questions.
When asked about his past experiences with music, Crow opened up about his history as musician. He elaborated on his humble beginnings.
“I started off with learning folk music,” he said. By playing and singing at churches, schools, and summer camps with friends, he was able to grow as an artist.
Crow learned how to play the guitar by performing at hootenannies, or folk gatherings, “We would share all these folk songs from around the world, because there’s so many that come from everywhere,” he said.
Growing up in the west where the Rocky Mountains were located, he was a part of a number of bands. He revealed that the leader of one of his old bands became the original Flash Cadillac of “Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids” fame–a retro rock and roll band.
After moving from his home in Colorado to the state of Virginia, Crow described his further growth as a musician while relocating east.
“I lived in the mountains of Appalachia in Virginia. And when I was there it was very enriching,” Crow said.
Crow explained that being away from home changed his perspective of music and helped him grow.
“My whole life changed . . . I realized what was going on a little bit more, such as with world music, and appreciated it,” he said.
He added, “I was in this area where it was all real true traditional American folk.
After teaching school in Virginia, Crow moved to Montana. His experiences in Montana with Native American music also contributed to his growth as a musician.
He participated in Native American pow-wows, or gatherings, with tribes like the Cheyenne and the Crow in Montana. “I was sitting in my teepee looking at their silhouettes. It really felt like I was in the 1862,” he said.
“It was just magical.”
Crow’s transition into children’s music came later in his move to California. By moving back west, he was given the opportunity to work for Disney.
With the challenge of writing songs for Disney, such as the show “Winnie the Pooh”, Crow went through a growth process as a musician.
Crow continued on about his blessings through his experience in teaching and making children’s music.
“I was fortunate enough to discover a career in music for children,” he said.
He emphasized that working with kids and families had “been more important and more vital and exciting to me.”
As for his future plans, Dan Crow revealed some of the projects he had been recently working on, such as a Tooth Fairy song for National Dental Month and an Anti-Bully awareness tune.
He continues to record music extensively, acknowledging that his audience changes throughout time.
“I’m always recording, because I’m always writing,” he said.
Crow continues to remain hard at work with a number of musical projects and tours scheduled for the future.