Review in Brief: Musiplication - Kat Vellos

Musiplication.jpgYou've probably noticed that I don't review a lot of "educational" CDs. There are a couple reasons for that -- first, I don't have much of a clue as to their pedagogical soundness. Second, and perhaps more importantly for the purposes of this site, the music usually just doesn't move me. We are about entertainment and community around here -- if your kids happen to learn something found in a textbook, too, well, that's just a bonus.

So let me describe Musiplication With Kat Vellos this way -- I don't envision myself listening to this on my own or after my kids have mastered the times table. But that doesn't mean it isn't good listening. Kat Vellos is a former teacher as well as a spoken word poet and with her first CD Musiplication has put together a sweet little collection of times tables set to music.

Yeah, you heard me -- "times tables set to music." Vellos breaks through the pedagogical boredom barrier that phrase implies in two ways. One, each times table (especially as you make your way into the higher digits) is presented as a story of sorts -- giving each multiple of 6, for example, a distinct family personality type in "6 Family Reunion" or crazy stories in "7's Tall Tales." You're still hearing the same basic repetition of the tables, but at least it's presented with verve; Vellos' spoken word poetry experience gives the stories shape. Second, Vellos' words are underlaid with some laid-back beats courtesy of the producer Batsauce. Layered with old-school funk and soul, it gives the whole CD a deliciously organic feel.

While younger kids might enjoy the stories here, the target audience is clearly slightly older kids, ages 7 through 10. You can listen to samples at the album's CDBaby page. Because it's trying hard to teach times tables, it doesn't quite reach the "listen anytime" nature of something like TMBG's Here Come the 123s -- if you know the times tables, you probably won't spin this too much. But it does its job with as musically pleasant a background as you'll care to hear. It's about as good an "educational" CD as they come.