Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oklahoma Annie

We've been preparing all day for our first trip out on the summer library tour as a family tomorrow. We'll be heading for Tahlequah early in the morning, then to Ft. Gibson and Checotah the next day, and back home.

Evalyn is wanting to perform the song we wrote together, "Oklahoma Annie," with me on stage. I'm really looking forward to that!

Last year she performed "Hummingbird Hum" with me several times. She was five then, and rather unpredictable on stage. Now that she's six, we've asked for a certain degree of professionalism from her. We just want to know she isn't going to lie down on the floor in the middle of the song, or start swinging the mic around or doing anything distracting to draw kids' attention away from the song.

So we've been rehearsing, and I told her we had to get through it twice with no mistakes before she could perform with me at a program. We managed that today, although she was reluctant to take it seriously. (It did not help that she had a sleep over last night and came home exhausted!) It did help to let her know that it's OK with me if she DOESN'T choose to rehearse and perform.

I think our number together should go really well tomorrow. Evalyn wanted to use the actual "Oklahoma Annie" - a toy - on stage, and once we worked out some choreography for her to do with the horse, that's when she really started getting into it more. It'll be very cute, if we can pull it off!!

Any other performers out there who work with your own kids? Feel free to post some good advice!!

See you at the library!


  1. Hey, Monty. First of all, it's great to see you blogging again... I missed you for quite a while there.

    My girls have sort of performed with me for a while now, during "The Elephant Song". Every once in a while there will be a crowd where the kids don't quite know what to make of it at the beginning when I say that elephants swing through trees, and there is this perplexed silence. In those times, Becca or Evee will be ready to jump in and respond with "No! They can't swing through trees!" etc. And then that will get the other kids going from there. They would do that anyway, but I think they especially know in those instances that they need to be the ones to help it along, so they do treat it like it's their job to do.

    And lately they've been running up to sit on my lap and sing "This Little Light of Mine" at the end of my shows, and they do a great job with that. (I sometimes have to quickly introduce them as my daughters so nobody thinks it's something weird that two kids just suddenly attacked me.)

    But being only 4 and 2, they're just too young to be expected to do anything that's too specific or involved, so I haven't really tried to incorporate them into the show beyond those things. And those things just sort of happened naturally to begin with, and then we were very encouraging of that so they were eager to keep doing it.

    I'm sure they'll want to be a part of some other things as they get older, and that will be great, but as you say, right now there could be a mid-song lie down or who knows what.

    Then again, my wife used to work with a few performing families in Branson, a couple of which had kids performing on stage on a daily basis at the age of three. If a kid is eager to perform, and you're willing to take the time to work with them enough, then they can do just great. Plus I think we have an advantage because our kids know that performing is such a big part of our lives. They usually really enjoy the opportunity to be a part of that. One thing to watch out for, though, according to Roseann's Branson experience... a precocious 3 or 4 year-old will learn very quickly that you cannot discipline them in front of an audience, which can make them difficult to control on stage. If they decide to add a new line for a laugh, or suddenly use the word "poopy!" there's not a lot you can do. Which is why it's generally better to use a more mature 6 year-old than an unpredictable 3 year-old.

    I give you guys credit for going forward with it and I hope it works out great. I'll be watching closely to see how it goes to learn what I can.


  2. Hi Eric!

    Thanks for posting your experience with your daughters! Sounds like they are well on their way to becoming part of the act.

    Definitely Evalyn picked up that "you can't get on to me while I'm on stage" attitude a couple of times last summer when she was performing "Hummingbird Hum" with me.

    To avoid it this year we made two things clear. One, her performance is optional. If she does less than a professional job, we'll take her out of the show. Two, she gets paid, a couple of bucks per show. She seems very motivated by this!

    By the way, when I say "less than professional," I don't mean she can't make any mistakes. Just that she can't improvise on stage or do anything wild that distracts from the song. If I held to a standard of no mistakes I'd have to kick myself out of the act several times a day!

    We try to keep it light and fun, and so far she's doing great. I'll post more about that in today's post.