Will Stroet and his Backyard Band are bringing their blend of educational kids’ tunes to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Sunday, Oct. 22. (Photo submitted)

‘No shushing’ for educational kids’ jams

When parents bring their kids to live performances, they often struggle to keep them quiet

When parents bring their young children to concerts or any live performances, they often struggle to quiet down the whippersnappers.

However, when Will Stroet and his Backyard Band take the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Oct. 22, chatting and making noise are not only allowed, but encouraged.

“The kids are typically dancing throughout the show,” Stroet said. “It’s a very entertaining, high energy interactive performance. It’s not the kind of show where you have to be shushing your kids the whole time.”

And for kids looking to be the next Mikhail Baryshnikov, Stroet leads the audience through choreographed dance moves that are easy for all kids to learn.

Drawing inspiration from Stroet’s CBC Kids television show Will’s Jams, the performance features sing-along choruses and educational tracks full of puns, anagrams, palindromes, rap and poetry while promoting literacy, imagination and an active lifestyle.

“With a lot of my songs, they learn something,” Stroet said.

And the educational aspect to Stroet’s show has garnered brownie points with the guardians.

“We get lots of great feedback from parents. What we do find is parents feel good about it. It’s real music — it’s music the kids love but the parents can enjoy too. You have to really think about them (parents),” Stroet said, laughing that it’s an important aspect as parents also have to sit through the performance.

But when the parents see how much fun the kids are having as they bounce around the room, smiles on their faces and giggles in the air, they never find it difficult to enjoy themselves, Stroet said. And for Stroet, who has children of his own, seeing the kids enjoy themselves is what it’s all about.

“My favourite part is the live performance,” Stroet said. “I love the interaction with the kids.”

Working with kids has always been a passion for Stroet, who cut his teeth in the industry as an elementary school teacher before pursuing a full-time music career eight years ago.

“It’s so much fun. I love my job so much,” Stroet said. “A lot of performers can feel intimidated performing just for kids, but there’s the other side too: you can have so much fun. As long as they’re having a good time, it’s great.”

After seeing success on his first album in 2005, the Vancouver-based performer has taken his six albums in both English and French to schools, festivals and theatres across the country, receiving five Western Canadian Music Awards nominations, two Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations and a 2017 Juno nomination for his newest album, Wordplay.

With success in Canada to back him, Stroet has recently decided to bring his music abroad as a way to teach children English.

“Very recently, we’ve started looking at touring internationally. This past summer, we had our first show in China,” Stroet said, adding that he’s looking into booking another tour through China. “I think that’s probably where we will start to focus our energy, but I will still play in Canada too, of course.”

And it’s an internationally successful show that Stroet is excited to bring to Vernon.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” he said. “We love the Okanagan.”

Will Stroet and his Backyard Band take the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 each and are available now through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. Series subscriptions for the 2017/18 first stages series are $20 and include tickets to see both Stroet and The Kerplunks April 15, 2018. For more information, visit www.willmusic.ca.

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