“Let’s Move” is a new family-friendly album by musical artist Katie Dwyer that is scheduled for release on September 9, 2022. After moving from Arkanasas to New York to puruse her musical ambitions, Katie served as a nanny for more than ten years. Working with a dozen children from different families, Katie gained a deep insight into the psychology of children and now has her own child, Hazel Rose, and a popular NYC-based children’s music program called Katie’s Corner.
“Let’s Move” is her second album that contains 24 songs. Katie recently discussed this album and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in music and songwriting and did you always gravitate towards the children’s genre?
Katie Dwyer (KD): I’ve composed music on the piano much of my life. My parents got a piano when I was four years-old and I was instantly drawn to it. I would sit and make up my own music for hours. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really sat down to craft actual songs with lyrics. I would sing with her every day and started making up songs about her little stuffed animals. My husband heard me singing to her one day and asked where I learned the songs. I told him I had made them up. “They’re really good,” He said. I sang the song for some good friends of ours who are Broadway actors and their reaction was so positive. These moments made me realize I had a knack for songwriting. So, I started crafting songs and decided I wanted to open my own children’s music program. I had been nannying for 10 years but wanted to devote my time to my own child. I’ve always loved children and didn’t want to stop working with them. So I decided to combine my two passions and create my own children’s music program. So I started writing songs for my class. I was determined to have my class only use my original music. And many of those first songs written ended up forming my first album Music Makes Me Happy.
MM: How did you break into the industry and how would you describe your style?
KD: I started my classes in the Fall of 2019 before the pandemic. It started out small, I had about 25 students by the time the pandemic shut us down for several months. But by that time parents had started asking me for the music so they could listen at home. I’ve always had a DIY approach to things so I decided to crowdfund and use that money to record an album for them. I released Music Makes Me Happy in September 2020. I had no idea what I was doing. I released it without any advertising or PR. During this time, I was holding online classes and people around the country were participating so my music started to spread. My husband has been a huge help in getting my music out there, he does all the stuff a manager would do. I’m just doing what I love and trying to have as many people as possible hear my music
As far as my style, I’m influenced by so many different styles. My upcoming album, Let’s Move, has bits of rock, Broadway, jazz, and Caribbean influences. But in general, I write mostly upbeat, happy music. Because of the pandemic I had to move my classes outdoors. I quickly realized that in order to keep a child’s attention in Central Park I was going to have to keep them on their feet and moving. So I need to sing all the songs that get them going. I’d say my class style is “full-on energy.” When you walk by my class or come to my concert, you are sure to be singing, dancing and moving the entire time. It’s energetic, lively and just plain fun! For not only the kids but the adults as well. This is a class where everyone is participating. One of my favorite moments in class is when I sing “Hello, Rainbow.” It started organically when a few nannies began singing the chorus with me and now it’s grown into a full-on singalong. It’s magical to have everyone singing along to my music in the middle of Central Park. Most of my songs are very upbeat and lively, so it’s easy to want to have a good time when listening to the music.
MM: How much did being a nanny impact your creativity?
KD: I think being a nanny had a big impact on my creativity. I’ve been a pretty creative person my entire life. Whether it be music, art, or dance. But being a nanny for so many different children really gave me great insight into how to keep children’s attention. Each child was so different which challenged me to keep things fresh and exciting for each one. I had to really understand each child’s interests and craft my approach accordingly. What I found was that almost all of my children responded to imaginative play that involved some type of music component. My years as a nanny certainly gave me inspiration for many of the songs I write for children today.
MM: How much did becoming a mother affect your creative output?
KD: One hundred percent! My daughter, Hazel, is the ultimate reason I do what I do every day. As I said before, I sang to her every day and wrote these jingles for her to keep her interested. and it completely inspired keeping many other children engaged through my music. Having a child is the ultimate dream for a creative soul who loves any excuse to create! So having Hazel just opened this world of us trying new projects together or immersing ourselves in imaginative play. As a parent, I want my child to be able to tap into their own creative mindset, so I think constantly introducing new and exciting ways to explore keeps things stimulating and fun.
MM: What was it like to work through the pandemic, especially with your children?
KD: The pandemic was tough for all of us, and also, in a strange way, a silver lining when it came to my very new business. As I said, I had only just started my program in the fall of 2019 and had to stop short in my second semester of classes which was March of 2020. I decided to continue classes through Zoom, which was a wonderful outlet, and also allowed children from different states to join. This was a great solution for most children but was difficult for super young children who weren’t quite ready to follow a class on a screen. I also had the honor of putting on Zoom classes for the clients of Pandora music and their children, which definitely helped spread my music beyond NYC. Once we were back to holding in-person classes in November of 2020, the only safe option was to hold classes outdoors in Central Park. This was a huge boost to my program. The fact that people could see my class in action was the greatest advertisement I could have asked for. Every day new people were walking by– nannies, parents, grandparents–asking for a card and signing up. Once they saw the kind of class I held, my program grew at an exceptionally fast rate. I went from having around 25 children when we first returned in late 2020 to over 140 in just over a year’s time. And the program continues to grow in such a way that it’s evident I will need to begin hiring a team of teachers! Very exciting for sure. So, while the pandemic halted my business for a solid nine months, it also gave me the opportunity to show families what I could do. And honestly, I love teaching outside in Central Park.
MM: Out of all songs on the album, do you have any personal favorites? If so, which one?
KD: This is a tough question to answer, because I love so many for different reasons. But if I have to choose, I’d say my favorite song on the new album would be “I Am Me.” It’s definitely a self-empowerment anthem for littles, but I love the energy of the song and the overall just good feeling while listening to the music. “Dino Stomp and Chomp” is a close second, because there is nothing cuter than watching the children do the dance moves to the song and roaring like dinosaurs.
MM: What’s the best fan feedback you’ve gotten about your music?
KD: I’ve heard several times from parents that my music is the only thing that will calm their child down when they’re having a meltdown; that if their child is inconsolable, they put on my album and the child instantly stops crying. I’m always so amazed and flattered that my music has such an impact. Another thing I’ve loved hearing is from adults. I’ve been told by adults that they listen to my music without their kids. Just the other day, I was performing at a birthday party. The child’s grandparents told me what fans they were of my music, and that they listen to my music in the car just the two of them, that my music is joyful and makes them feel happy. I’ve also had the aunt of one of my students meet me on the street and tell me that she and her fiancée love my music and sing “Music Makes Me Happy” all the time. They don’t even have children and they’re singing my music! How cool is that!
MM: How would you describe your live performances?
KD: Interactive and full of energy and movement. I craft my performances and classes to get maximum participation from everyone, caregivers included. I have crafted songs that tell the listener exactly what to do so it’s easy to follow along and dance. I also help guide the kids and the adults on what to do on each song. I get caregivers to clap to the beat while the children are jumping, dancing, waddling, stomping, etc. I get everyone to sing along to the chorus, I just try and make it one big party.
MM: How do you hope your career evolves over the next five years?
KD: I hope to expand my classes. First here in NYC and then in different cities. We’re planning a big push for YouTube content. Videos and other children-centric content. My music lends itself to story. So, we are in the process of creating a show based on my music. I’ve actually had a nanny, unprompted, come to me with a treatment of a show based on my music.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
KD: I’m so excited for my next album. Let’s Move, to come out September 9th. I feel like my songwriting has taken a huge step forward on this album and can’t wait for everyone to hear it. My families have been hearing some of the new material in my class and keep asking when they can listen at home. So, I’m excited to finally let them hear the entire album. My ultimate goal is for families all over the globe to be singing my music. That has already started happening now, but I would love to be a household name in the children’s music industry with the likes of Raffi and Laurie Berkner. I genuinely want to bring joy into the lives of children and their families.
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