I’m Korean but I was brought up in England. After getting my English degree from Oxford, I set off around the world. I am now married with two children, and we are all US citizens. And last year we moved to Paris.My daughter started school here, a Bilingual Montessori School, but the language barrier hit her right away, not only in school, but at the bakery and the metro and the playground. So on top of all the feelings of missing her (very large) family back home in Los Angeles, adapting to a new life in a new country was not easy. She had a couple of outbursts when she screamed that she wanted to walk all the way back to L.A. After a while, she quieted down, but too much, worryingly so, and we wondered whether she wasn’t suffering from some sort of depression.
It was music that began the process of saving her. We bought her a book + CD of children’s folk songs by Henri Dès. She loved the illustrations (by Izou). She adored the music. It didn’t occur to her that the songs were sung in the same language that was giving her so much trouble. She’s pretty indiscriminate when it comes to music – she sings English songs and Korean songs, not fully understanding every single lyric. This wasn’t much different.
She began to sing along, mimicking the sounds. Then she started to hear isolated words. Then she started to make connections between the words in the songs and the words that her new friends and teachers were using at school. And pretty soon her knowledge of the songs reinforced her social communication, and her social communication reinforced her love of the songs.
This is when my wife and I really understood the power of songs, actually in this case as an aid to language learning. As educators ourselves, we wondered whether we couldn’t promote English nursery rhymes more heavily to Korean children. Then we wondered whether there were nursery rhymes written specifically as an aid to language learning. And then I thought something out loud, like, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were children’s songs sung from the point of view of, say, Shakespeare characters, so that the songs could not only be an aid in language learning, but kids could also be introduced to the world of Shakespeare?”
And we were convinced that something like that must exist. We looked it up. We searched for such a thing. But it didn’t exist. And we knew immediately that this was something that needed to exist. And so we decided to create it.
DAESHIN KIM and his wife and daughter began a project called KinderBard (http://www.kinderbard.com/), creating songs for children sung by characters from Shakespeare. They plan to publish a music album, a picture book, and an interactive app. They have turned to ‘crowdfunding’ to try to raise funds to bring this ambitious work to life, but it has not been easy. Their campaign ends on the 21st of June, and they desperately need more pledges. You can learn more about their project, watch their wonderful video introducing Daeshin’s songs, his wife’s illustrations, and his daughter’s singing, at
http://kck.st/KoAuw6 and you may pledge as little as $1 for some special rewards they have prepared.
POSTSCRIPT. As part of this KinderBard project, my daughter gave a solo recital at her school last week, singing my compositions, all from the point of view of different Shakespeare characters, in front of her classmates. Some video clips from the performance will be posted in an exclusive place for backers only in the next few days.
As you can see, my daughter now loves her life in Paris and she loves her school. She loves learning more about these characters that sing these songs, and we all hope that we can bring these songs into the world so that you can share them too, with the children in your life.
Finally, we have together created a story of an orphan in Paris and a magical machine that transports him to a parallel world inhabited by Shakespeare’s characters. This is a story based on our life in Paris, and the work we do creating these songs. You can read this story at http://little.kinderbard.com/