ensemble high male voice and piano
duration 5 minutes
written summer 2010
commissioned by MATA for Gabriel Kahane
premièred November 17, 2010, Brooklyn, NY
published by Andres & Sons Bakery
Family Plays is a very short cycle of four songs written for Gabriel Kahane, based on text from the website Parenting With Family Play by John F. and Frank C. Adams. The site is a very earnest and thorough “users’ manual” for roughhousing/role-playing with your young child.
I took four choice excerpts and set them to quite serious and straight-faced music— I didn’t want to risk the texts becoming cutesy. The piano parts are spare, intended for Gabe to accompany himself (giving him something to do with his hands).
1. Safety Rules
Take your time and be gentle.
Explain what is about to happen.
Be sensitive. Ask, do not direct.
Do not throw your child.
Use common sense. Young children have weak joints.
Let your child down gently.
The adult and child take turns being statue and sculptor.
The statue must stay in whatever position the sculptor puts him or her.
When the child is up the adult is down.
When the adult is up the child is down.
4. Two Branch Tree
The adult’s right thigh and arms are the branches.
The adult stays rigid while the child climbs up.