Sesame Street and music

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
John F
Posts: 20912
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Sesame Street and music

Post by John F » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:51 am

I was never part of the show's target audience - too old - but I watched it anyway, all the time, in the 1970s. This long article, too long to be posted here, is great fun to read.

How ‘Sesame Street’ Started a Musical Revolution
By Melena Ryzik
Aug. 22, 2019

How many ways can you sing about the letter B? On “Sesame Street,” that question has many furry answers.

Since its inception in 1969, the public television show has redefined what it means to teach children through TV, with music as its resounding voice. Before “Sesame Street,” it wasn’t even clear that you could do that; once the series began, as a radical experiment that joined educational research and social idealism with the lunacy of puppets and the buoyancy of advertising jingles, it proved that kids are very receptive to a grammar lesson wrapped in a song.

Big-name stars lined up to make guest appearances that have become the stuff of legend (Stevie Wonder and Grover; Loretta Lynn and the Count; Smokey Robinson and a marauding letter U). And long before inclusion was a curriculum goal, “Sesame Street” made a point to showcase Afro-Caribbean rhythms, operatic powerhouses, Latin beats, Broadway showstoppers and bebop alongside its notably diverse cast.

“Sesame Street is one of the earliest examples of a musical I experienced,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, who grew up adoring “I Love Trash” and called its singer, Oscar the Grouch, “a character so singular that he changes the way you see the world at large.” “I learned from ‘Sesame Street’ that music is not only incredibly fun, but also an extremely effective narrative and teaching tool,” he added in an email. “On top of that, their songs are the closest thing we have to a shared childhood songbook.”

Miranda began composing for “Sesame” not long after his first Tony win in 2008; his friend Bill Sherman, a fellow Tony winner, became the “Sesame” music director the following year. Today, with online viewership in the hundreds of millions, the series still hosts pop superstars — Janelle Monáe, Romeo Santos, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars — on the updated streetscape where Nina Simone sang “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in 1972.

Now, as it marks its 50th anniversary — after 4,526 episodes, not to mention specials, movies, albums and more — the legacy of “Sesame” is clear: It impacted the music world as much as it shaped TV history, inspiring countless fans and generations of artists. And the show is still innovating, finding ever more ways to sing out loud...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/arts ... rsary.html
John Francis

barney
Posts: 3319
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Sesame Street and music

Post by barney » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:34 pm

The Australian equivalent is Playschool, though we do get Sesame Street here, of course. When my children were small, 30 to 20 years ago, I often watched it with them. The production values were really high (by which I mean clever, rather than lavishly funded), and the music's simplicity masked a real sophistication. They always had really clever and musical pianists who could improvise in an instant according to what was happening. The current pianist, a highly accomplished jazz pianist and composer the rest of the time, is my brother-in-law.

Belle
Posts: 2054
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:45 am

Re: Sesame Street and music

Post by Belle » Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:12 am

I worked briefly behind the scenes on "Playschool" in 1972/3 (before the days of colour TV) when the late Warren Carr was the pianist. We used to hold full rehearsals the day before recording in a church hall right near Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School in Darlinghurst. It was a very tightly scripted program, right down to detailed camera cards for each shot. Never comes across that way, does it!! (John Waters always made me smile when he'd go to the canteen at Gore Hill studios for lunch on recording day (Friday - when all 5 were recorded) with little 'jiffies' on his feet!!) "Playschool" had a very good Executive Producer - Allan Kendall. Henrietta Clark was the main writer - a charming woman who was married to National Institute of Dramatic Art Director John Clark - and she was something of a mentor to me in those days.

(I was very good friends with the actor Nigel Lovell - you may not know him, Barney, as you are from NZ - and he made some good films including one in 1951, "Wherever she Goes" about the pianist Eileen Joyce!! He played Eileen's strict father. Well, here he is in this small excerpt from the film: the Australian accent sounded funny back then!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWwId2Zcy-4

Nigel was a beautiful, gentle man with a voracious interest in music and books and he sent me wonderful wishes when our first child was born. We were both bored with our jobs at the ABC and used to spend time quizzing each other about musical pieces, musical trivia and literary extracts!)

My children all grew up with "Sesame Street" and I remember those many years with great fondness. All our children learned to count through Grover and Count von Count. It was childrens' television par excellence. And who can forget the irrepressible Guy Smiley who could "never never" remember the melody on the piano and ended up banging his head on the keyboard.

barney
Posts: 3319
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Sesame Street and music

Post by barney » Wed Aug 28, 2019 5:45 pm

Thanks for those lovely reminiscences. Warren Carr was indeed a wonderful pianist. One needed a lot more than just technique, though of course they weren't playing Scriabin or Gaspard de la Nuit.
I don't know the actor you mention, but will watch the clip you provided.
My children grew up a bit later - I mainly watched in the late '80s and early '90s. Noni Hazlehurst was definitely my favourite, and everyone loved John Waters, but they were all good. I am not at all surprised to learn how professionally it was crafted because that really came across, as of course it does with Sesame Street.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 14 guests