'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids Author Jane Schoenberg teamed with her musician husband Steven to create a book and CD aimed at teaching children about their bodies. My Bodyworks offers a brief anatomical overview, and 12 songs.
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'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids

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'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids

'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

How do you explain something as important, obvious and yet mystifying as the human body to people whose bodies and minds are just beginning to form? Well, maybe with a little music, a little humor and a nice beat.

(Soundbite of "Keep the Beat")

Mr. STEVEN SCHOENBERG (Musician and Composer): (Singing) Your heart never rests. It continues to beat, sending blood to your head and your arms and your feet. You can feel as it pumps in your left upper chest, keeping you healthy so you do your best.

Ms. JANE SCHOENBERG (Teacher and Educational Consultant): (Singing) Your heart is at work when you play. It never...

SIMON: That song is called "Keep the Beat," with lyrics by Jane Schoenberg and music by her husband, Steven Schoenberg. Ms. Schoenberg is a teacher, an educational consultant. Mr. Schoenberg is a musician and composer. Together they've created a multimedia project for children that makes learning more fun. It's called "My Bodyworks: Songs About Your Bones, Muscles, Heart and More!" Steven and Jane Schoenberg join us in our performance studios.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Thank you, Scott. It's great to be here.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Good to know everything works.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Well, it was fun...

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Absolutely.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: ...learning how it happens from our part, too.

SIMON: Do you approach this as educators, musicians? How?

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Well, I think we approach it both as educators and musicians because I have been a teacher for over 20 years and Steven is still a composer today, so we're bringing both of our talents and experiences to the project.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Yeah, I think that because it's a book about the body that in writing the lyrics, for example, Jane had to do a lot of research and make sure that all of the information was correct anatomically and all of that.

SIMON: An anatomically correct song.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Yeah. And that--and then I added the music to it, so that was the musical element.

SIMON: How do you go about explaining the body to youngsters?

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Well, I think the children are naturally curious about their bodies and they begin to explore their bodies basically from birth. And when they begin to ask questions, because kids are kids are wired to ask questions, we have to answer them as honestly and as simply as we can--well, `simply' when they're young, obviously, and more complex when they're older.

SIMON: And wouldn't--aren't these songs different than what they would have been, say, 20 years ago even?

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Well, we're not talking down to children at all in anyway. And our music really isn't talking down to children either. So we're giving them information that's anatomically correct and is engaging, but we're also packaging it in music that is blues and jazz and rock. It's not kids' music, per se.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: And we're giving them information to make them feel good about themselves in their bodies, and to hopefully give them this information at this young age that they'll take with them later on, and maybe it will influence them in some way because we--it's very easy to learn with music and words. I mean, take the ABCs.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: We used to teach our children phone numbers in a song, and to this day, age 27 and 24, they still remember the songs.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: They still remember the songs.

SIMON: Now, Steven, you're sitting at our piano, and we want to get you to do a song...

Mr. SCHOENBERG: I love it, too.

SIMON: ...and this is a song--let me phrase it this way: This is a song in which a youngster will learn that body parts and body processes have results and consequences; let's put it that way.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: I think I know the song he's referring to.

(Live performance of unidentified song)

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) Last night at dinner I ate too much stuff. I should have listened when Mom said, `Enough!' Instead, I kept eating and eating and eating and eating and eating and eating some more. I ate till my tummy felt funny. My tummy felt sore.

But soon I felt better. I just didn't mind when I heard some gas passed from somewhere behind. I wasn't embarrassed. I didn't feel shy 'cause everyone does it. Yes, everyone does it. The whole world does it! And I'll explain why.

When you swallow your food it goes into your belly where everything mixes to goopylike jelly. This is the start of digestion, which happens inside the intestines. Good things like nutrients hang out all day, while the things that you don't need get taken way. And the leftover stuff's now a gas, which comes out of you in a small blast.

(Soundbite of muted tooting)

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) So don't get embarrassed, no need to feel shy, since everyone does it and now you know why. Just say `Excuse me' and leave it at that 'cause everyone...

Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) Even Mom.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) ...everyone...

Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) Definitely Dad.

Mr. SCHOENBERG (Singing): ...everyone passes...

Mr. SCHOENBERG and Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing in unison) ...yes, everyone passes--the whole world passes...

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Woof! Even the dog.

Mr. SCHOENBERG and Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing in unison) ...passes gas.

(Soundbite of sharply blowing air)

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Excuse me!

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Is it true, or is it not?

SIMON: Well, they'll never hear it from me. What's this `definitely Dad' stuff, by the way?

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Well...

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Yeah, that's true.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Where's Mom in the picture?

SIMON: Well--oh, Mom would never, right?

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Never.

SIMON: Mom would never.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Well, that's the point of the song, guys. Passing gas is a natural process, it's part of the body, and...

Mr. SCHOENBERG: And it's OK to do it.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: And it's OK to do it. And it's OK to sing about it, we think.

SIMON: Yeah. I must say the digestion-intestines rhyme, there's a Noel Coward quality to that. That's very clever, indeed.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Thank you.

SIMON: Have you performed these songs in a concert setting for a live audience?

Mr. SCHOENBERG: We have. We have a stage show called "My Bodyworks on Stage" that is--consists of the band. It's seven members. And we have an actor who plays Bones, the character Bones.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Who's dressed in a skeletal suit.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: A whole lot of fun.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Our audience is for three- to eight-year-olds, so we just--every time we see a kid, that's our audience. And what we do, as Steven was saying, is very interactive. So there's this exchange. We're getting back as much as we're giving out. It really is--it's been a lot of joy.

SIMON: Well, very nice talking to both of you. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Thank you.

SIMON: You're going to play us out on "Bones," I gather?

Mr. SCHOENBERG: On "Bones"? That's great. Though before we do it, actually, I'd like to teach you the chorus of that.

SIMON: Sure.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: So I'll sing it once and then you just come in. And then every time we do it, you join us. How's that?

SIMON: I'll try.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Ohhh.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: Give it your best.

SIMON: OK.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: What a ham.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Here's how it goes.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones.

Mr. SCHOENBERG and SIMON: (Singing in unison) Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones...

Mr. SCHOENBERG, SIMON and Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing in unison) ...bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: So here we go.

Ms. SCHOENBERG: You got it.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: Excellent.

(Live performance of "Bones")

Mr. SCHOENBERG, Ms. SCHOENBERG and SIMON: (Singing in unison) Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) How many bones are in you and in me? Why there're 206 bones naturally. Our bones hold us up and they keep us in line. They make the backbone known as the spine.

Mr. SCHOENBERG, Ms. SCHOENBERG and SIMON: (Singing in unison) Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones.

Mr. SCHOENBERG: (Singing) There's fibula...

Mr. SCHOENBERG and Ms. SCHOENBERG: (Singing in unison) ...tibia, humerus and radius, clavicle, scapula, vertebrae and skull bones.

Mr. SCHOENBERG, Ms. SCHOENBERG and SIMON: (Singing in unison) Bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones. Bones, bones. Bones, bones, bones.

SIMON: Oh, we were just getting started. Well, thanks so much for being with us.

The book and the accompanying CD are called "My Bodyworks: Songs About Your Bones, Muscles, Heart and More!" written by Jane Schoenberg, with music by Steven Schoenberg and illustrations by Cynthia Fisher. You can hear more songs; you can see more body parts; you can read the lyrics on our Web site, npr.org, including some of your favorite body parts and body songs.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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