As It Happens

That time a baby sang Mozart on As It Happens

The final episode of As It Happened, our summer archive series, features a children's author who used rap to reach her students, a rock 'n' roll legend who puts the "vice" in advice, music instructor whose students are still in diapers, and a teacher who went to incredible lengths to answer one student's question.

In 1997, Barbara Young told AIH about her singing class for infants

Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) at the keyboard at the age of 9. (Hulton Archive/Getty)

Calling all the teachers and students in the As It Happens archives to the front of the class.

The final episode of As It Happened, our summer archive series, features a music instructor whose students are still in diapers, a children's author who used rap to reach her students, a rock 'n' roll legend who puts the "vice" in advice, and a teacher who went to incredible lengths to answer one student's question.

The tiniest little singers 

Barbara Young knows kids like to learn along to music. In fact, most of her students learn how to sing before they can walk or talk. 

In 1997, the British music teacher spoke to then-As It Happens host Michael Enright about her singing classes for babies — and why so many parents go gaga over their toddler's natural talents.

A British woman told AIH how she teaches babies and toddlers to sing. (Basov Mikhail/Shutterstock)

"The babies can come to the class from birth, really from day one," she said. 

"The idea is to do a lot of singing with them so that they're getting the input. And then 'round about the time they're about the six month old, they do start vocalizing. Much later on when they're about 14 or 15  months, that's when they really can start singing."

She then played  a recording of her own baby, 18-month-old Robert, singing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

Once upon a rhyme 

Stories are the greatest teachers. But sometimes, even if you've got a really important story to tell, it can be hard to get an audience to listen. Especially, if it's a class full of elementary students.

That's why when storyteller and children's author Itah Sadu toured Ontario in 1990 to teach kids about history, she used rap music to do it.

Mary Ann Shadd was an American-Canadian abolitionist, journalist and lawyer, who was the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. (National Archives of Canada)

"I thought, if I'm going into a school, I have to transmit history or information to children, instead of using the traditional way and bombard them with information, why don't I take a medium which they're excited about it impart that information?" Sadu told Michael Enright. 

She then rhymed off a few lines about Mary Ann Shadd, an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist and the first Black woman publisher in North America.

"We can boogie with that and we can chant it up and cook it up and make it feel good. And they will remember who Mary Ann Shadd is," Sadu said.

David Crosby won't 'butter your toast'

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby might not be the most obvious choice to pen an advice column. He's famously fallen out with friends. He was addicted to drugs. He served time in a Texas prison.

But the musician told As It Happens host Carol Off last year that his hard-earned life experience can sometimes translate into poignant wisdom.

Rock legend David Crosby is also an advice columnist. (photo credit: www.davidcrosby.com)

"I don't generally butter your toast, so to speak. I actually tell you what I think. And sometimes that's good and sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it may be distressing to be confronted with my truth or my opinion, " he said.

The video column, Ask Croz, last published in March 2020 in Rolling Stone. 

This is what a million looks like 

Susan Weaver's students know they can ask her anything, and that she'll help them find the answer. Even if it takes decades.

Twenty-two years ago, the New Brunswick teacher's eight-year-old student R.J. Vail asked her: "What does a million look like?"

The pair then made pact to collect one million bread tags to find out.

Susan Weaver, Grade 4 teacher at Chipman Elementary School in New Brunswick, collected one million bread tags to honour her former student's memory. (Susan Weaver/Facebook )

In February — with the help of students, community members and well-wishers around the country — she finally reached her goal. But R.J. wasn't there to see it. He was killed in a car collision in 2006 at the age of 16.

"It's a horrible tragedy," Weaver told Off in February. "But when I see a bread tag, it also makes me smile because I remember the funny little boy that he was. And it brings him back to life."


You can hear these stories and more on "The Joy of Learning" episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition

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