Finding common ground between caring parents and growing children can be difficult — especially when it comes to music.
But one local Gloucester resident is taking it upon her herself to produce quality music that can be beneficial to a child's development — and, more importantly, music that kids love.
Ilene Altman, better known as "Leeny," has released a compilation of children's music titled "Be Nice."
"The songs featured carry deep morals and good behavior practices in a fun and exciting way that both kids and parents have come to love," Altman said. The CD is geared toward children up to age 10.
"It all started as an accident," she hinted. "When my nephew Zak was born, I broke out a few of my old 'Sesame Street' and Beatles song books from when I was a kid, and I started to play them to him. After a while, I decided to write a few songs of my own and try them out on Zak. When I began to catch him dancing around the room singing my songs, I knew I was on to something."
Although Leeny was full of creative ideas, she was not alone in this endeavor. Realizing she would be need some help, she decided to call longtime friend Steve Equi. They had met during college and both share an admiration for children's music.
"Asking Steve to help me was a great idea," Altman said. "We shared a lot of common ideals."
"We just tried to write the best music we could with kid-oriented subject matter," Equi said. "Lyrics that could help you learn something without realizing that you're learning something. We felt it was important for us to include songs about good behavior, quiet time, and how to have fun in a safe way."
Altman and Equi's beliefs appear to resonate strongly with parents. They have received a variety of awards for "Be Nice," including a Parents' Choice Award, the Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine, and they're finalists in the Children's Music Web Awards.
Their impact is being felt locally as well.
"One Gloucester mother approached me in the supermarket the other day and thanked me for the impact that I have had on her kids," Altman said. "She told me that her kids now share and cooperate with one another. The only thing that had changed was that they had been listening to our CD constantly."
Altman said this is just one of the many encounters that she has experienced in the past months.
"The key to our success is that Steve and I make our music 'funducational,'" she said. "If kids can enjoy themselves and learn at the same time, not only are they happy, but their parents are also happy."
Altman and Equi both say that this CD is the first of many. They are planning to release this coming spring and are hoping the next release receives as much hype as "Be Nice" has.
"Writing kids' music is more fun than any other music I've written," Altman said. "And it just feels so much more worthwhile and fulfilling. Plus I'm getting to relearn everything I've forgotten from my youth.
"That's what life's about," she said, "learning to be a kid again."