by Karim Doumar
Andrew Barkan and Polly Hall met at Amherst College while making a folk rock record. Now they are married, have a one-year-old baby, spend most of their time creating and performing children’s music, and will be performing at Jammin’ Java at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 1.
They decided to go into children’s music in 2006. Hall’s niece was born and the couple had friends who had also just had a baby.
“I owned a studio in Brooklyn – my day job was making music for advertising – so we decided to make a kid’s record in that studio,” Hall said. They finally made the record in 2010, called Up and At ‘Em! after spending a few years playing and making music in a more laid back format. Then they decided to try and go for it.
“I sold the studio and moved out to Los Angeles and we started playing concerts and stuff out here,” Hall said. In 2012 they won the prestigious ASCAP Foundation Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award for songs in that first album.
“We had been playing shows for a couple of years in Los Angeles and weren’t sure if we wanted to shift to doing more children’s music or kind of stay where we were in film and advertising and receiving that award really gave us the push in the direction of the family sphere,” Hall said. After that they started doing work for Nickelodeon. Their songs are featured on Nickelodeon’s “Wallykazam” and they write the score for the digital series “Welcome To The Wayne.”
In September, they will be releasing their newest album, Odds & Ends. Many of the songs have already been released as singles and some of them will be featured when they appear at Jammin’ Java. Through their music, the duo tries to instill a few important ideals into their target audience.
“We generally would like to inspire a level of curiosity and play and drive children to explore their world,” Hall said. She and Barkan have also recently started a weekly podcast to further this goal.
Called “Ear Snacks,” the podcast explores “a subject that is a starting point that is accessible for kids but really goes somewhere else,” Hall said. During the month of July, the podcast covered fruits. August will cover hats.
“Hats are for doing,” Hall said, giving a preview into the kind of thinking that goes into the podcast. “They’re for being out in the world and, you know, being in the weather and trying new things and being active. They don’t just sit inside on a shelf and get bored.” The music in the podcasts includes original songs and scores written by the couple.
Though they love to write music and podcasts in order to teach and help kids, they’re really in the business because they love interacting with them on a personal, face-to-face level.
“When we’re with the kids in their natural environment, it’s some of our best times,” Hall said. The duo is cognizant of the importance of music to early childhood development and it is a great driving force in their careers.
“We love that we get to bring music to young children. It’s really cool to watch them find out what rhythm is on such a basic level,” Hall said, adding that for the youngest children, “their reaction to music is like a nervous system reaction. It can be a full body awesome experience and then to see the older children to engage with it intellectually – there’s just so many levels that music can augment childhood and we feel really lucky to be a part of it.”
• For more information about Andrew & Polly, visit andrewandpolly.com.