Music Builds Skills and Confidence with Tracy Bonham

by Kimberley McGee
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She is a trained violinst, two-time Grammy™ nominee, pianist, and vocalist turned alt-rock singer-songwriter. She’s also one of our favorite finds for something a little different in the music world. Tracy Bonham’s debut, The Burdens of Being Upright, achieved Gold Record status in 1996, spawning the chart-topping hit “Mother Mother” which has remained a powerful anthem for disenfranchised youth all over the world.

Bonham took time from her new album, and Melodeon Music House, where she celebrates the joy of learning and shares her passion for music theory and harmony through original songs and stories. The Melodeon Music House Curriculum is currently being taught at Brooklyn Preschool Of Science and Woodstock Day School.

Why is music important for kids to learn?

Music education engages the brain in so many positive ways. The rhythmic and mathematical component engages the more practical, logical side of the brain while the melodic and lyrical components engage the artistic and expressive side of the brain. Music also can connect us to ourselves and to others as it is a language we all share.

I believe it also encourages a sense of confidence in young people. I have seen it first hand – a child who might normally be shy and cautious becomes less inhibited when music is an option for expression.


What do they gain from listening to music, singing?

Children gain a sense of their own voice when singing which I always want to encourage. Many children might grow up having a hard time recognizing their own inner voice too, and I believe that learning music can help them connect to their authenticity. The music of the heart is a part of one’s identity. Music that makes the heart feel is a direct link to one’s emotions and we can never have too many heart-centered people in the world.


What was the inspiration behind this latest album?

I believe that anyone can make music, and anyone can get past limitations. A lot of music education programs for children forget the main ingredient: joy.

The styles and messages of the songs on my new album Young Maestros Vol. 1 reflect 1970s children’s media that I love: Free To Be You And Me and “Sesame Street.” I grew up with crippling insecurity as a child, especially when it came to expressing myself. I would hide behind my mother’s legs if anyone approached me. The stage, on the other hand, was my place to express myself and not hide in the shadows, or behind instruments.

If I can impart one thing to children it is that you do not have to hide or have the perfect instrument, or the perfect circumstance, to feel empowered and strong and use your voice.” I’ve been teaching music to kids for a few years now, and I’m developing a curriculum via my new educational company, Melodeon Music House.

Melodeon Music House

How did the downtime during quarantine inspire you?

Like so many creative people during quarantine, I was forced to reinvent myself as an artist. I knew that I wouldn’t be touring as Tracy Bonham, the rock artist, for some time. I had the Melodeon Music House material already in the can and I had been teaching the curriculum, using the recordings, at the Brooklyn Preschool Of Science before Covid hit.

When everyone started to learn remotely I immediately got my on-line chops together and began teaching my students on Zoom. It changed everything for me and I started to feel like I was developing my own music education program as if it were a live tv show. I am continuing to develop this with my musical partner, Rene Hart, and am excited to have more content soon for the educational component to the album.




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