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Jeremy Plays Guitar CD Review by Heather Randall

Jeremy Plays Guitar is a CD for children featuring over 30 minutes of musical entertainment. Fourteen songs cover important themes like making mistakes, sharing, accepting differences, using your words, worry, and so much more. With the CD comes a four-page booklet titled "Give Me a Break." It tells the story of a boy whose body talks to him and inspires him to fidget and jump when he knows he should be still and calm.

The songs on Jeremy Plays Guitar are more performance-based then sing-along. Kids of any age can listen along, but they are designed to be listened to only. Of course, with the many child-relevant themes, these songs could easily spark conversations with children about feelings and how to properly communicate their needs to adults. I think the CD would work best for children age 6 and up.

For my family, I prefer music that involves the children more than this CD does. Though the themes and concepts of the songs were truly wonderful, the lyrics were very hard to make out. The CD does not include printed lyrics, but a pdf download is available on the website. However, I'd caution anyone trying to download the lyrics as the file was contaminated and caused my computer to shut down repeatedly. I think that more complicated songs like these really require lyrics to be included so that parents can properly screen the songs.

I also thought many of the songs were poorly named. For example, when listening to the song titled "Wrong's Alright" my husband asked that I not play the CD until we could find lyrics. The chorus is very confusing. It took several attempts at listening before we made out the lyrics and discovered that the song is really trying to promote children to keep trying even when they don't get things right the first time. The "wrong's alright" concept is that while you're learning a new skill you should not expect to always get it right the first time. It's meant to take the pressure off of children to master every skill. This is a wonderful and reassuring concept that gets lost with the loud repetition of a chorus that seems to imply something completely different.

The booklet also seemed confusing to me. I couldn't decide if it was trying to encourage kids that it is okay to ask for a break to get their wiggles out or if it was shifting the responsibility by putting focusing on the naughty body that "made me do it." I think this is a lesson children shouldn't have to worry about. As parents, we should be attentive to the limits of our children's attention and not expect them to last longer than their age or ability requires. I didn't like the dissociated blame on the body making the child move. I think that's an idea that actually takes power away from the child.

Sorting all of these issues out is just too complex for a child. The attention it takes to hear and understand the lyrics is a little too difficult for young children who need a more direct approach. If the lyrics were sung with more clarity and were included with the CD, I would probably be a fan. I really wanted to like Jeremy Plays Guitar, but ultimately I found it lacking. At $13.99, this CD is not one I would recommend to others.

Product review by Heather Randall, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2011