SALEM – A local woman’s desire to give children something else to focus on and lift their spirits during the pandemic led her to develop an illustrated children’s album.
Treetop Tunes, by singer-songwriter Bonnie Pearson Hirdes from Salem and other locals artists, is a multimedia project featuring songs, pictures, lyrics and chord sheets all in a single app.
Hirdes said in an interview she has been writing songs for many years and had a collection of children’s songs she had developed and recorded a few years ago with local musicians Katalin Kiss and John McKinney.
“I decided it’d be really nice to do something that would involve the kids more,” Hirdes said.
This led to including around 100 colouring pages by local artist Katherine Olenic that can be printed or imported into a colouring app and song sheets with chords and lyrics to learn to sing or play each song.
All of this has been packaged into a single app, programmed by another local Daniel Barber.
“Music is always a really good focus to help with our relaxation and our enjoyment,” Hirdes said, adding it benefits mental health. “Colouring is a hands-on activity that really gets you focused.”
The songs themselves also tackle different issues from the environment, feelings, pandemic boredom and being differently-abled but some are just fun. Hirdes said the songs also range in genre which helps expose them to different types of music.
“A lot of kids' music, they all sound the same from one song to the next,” Hirdes said, so she incorporated jazz, country and western and reggae among others.
“That’s important because sometimes we get locked into one style and when kids are young, if they’re exposed to many different styles, they’ll be able to enjoy them all as they get older.”
She said children are going through a rough period through this pandemic, with much less interaction with friends and family. Therefore, she wanted to motivate children and families to take on an interactive activity to provide some relief from the situation.
“So many opportunities have been taken away by COVID,” Hirdes said. “Freedom is one thing we all had when we’re younger just to be able to go over and visit a friend or go out and do something with someone.”
Hirdes said she was hoping to be able to give Treetop Tunes away for free but had to charge the minimum to be listed in the Google Play store and Apple’s App store.
However, educators and other child care providers can contact Hirdes by email to see if they qualify for a free download code.
More information on Treetop Tunes can be found here.