IamA Roger Day AMA! I played concerts for the snowed in students and teachers during the southern snow storm. Ask me anything! (that's appropriate for families!)
My name is Roger Day. I am a children's musician in Nashville. Yesterday I skyped with several of the schools in Birmingham who had teachers and students who were snowed in. It was a spur of the moment event that turned into an absolute blast!
Yes, this is what I do full time and have for the past 15 years. The main way I make a living is by touring constantly. I play nearly 200 shows a year in about 70 different cities. (Some days I'll play 2 or 3 shows a day at different schools.) I play a variety of venues from schools -- naturally! -- to libraries to theaters like the Charlotte Children's Theatre to festivals like the Target Children's Book Festivals in L.A. and Minneapolis. I also sell CDs at my shows and online. And occasionally someone will find one of my songs and license it for a commercial. But really, the key to my success is that I'm married to a public school teacher. My income can vary widely from year to year. Hers is rock solid. With three kids, that's made it all work.
He might not have seen it yet. Give him time. This is his first day on Reddit.
Thanks! Yes, my first day on Reddit. Wow!
Did you receive any money at all for what you did?
No. It was really a spur of the moment thing. I've played several of the schools before I knew lots of the teachers. I contacted them on Facebook with the caveat that I wasn't sure if it would work but I'd love to try it. They did. And it did!!
Roger, you're a damn cool dude, and thanks for the AMA. I honestly can't think of a question, but keep doing what you're doing!
Thanks so much!
Hey roger I was wondering how often do you perform shows?
I play close to 200 shows a year. This past year I played literally from New York to California. But Alabama and North Carolina are the two states I play in the most.
Thanks for doing this AMA. How did you get started writing music for kids? You are an awesome guy!
I started as a camp counselor at Camp Winnataska and the Children's Fresh Air Farm, both summer camps in Birmingham. I learned then that music is like a superpower with kids. If you want them to learn something: sing a song. If you want them to focus: sing a song. If you want to them to say thanks: sing a song. I would then write songs every year as Christmas presents each year for my nieces and nephews. Then when my own kids came along -- I have three -- I started writing all the time, many of which -- like "Mosquito Burrito" -- I still play at every show today.
About how long did you spend skype calling the students?
I started Facebook messaging with several of the teachers at 6:15 a.m. Once we got all the technical bugs worked out, it was around 8:30 a.m. I sang for three different schools, about 30 minutes with each one. There were a couple of others that I had lined up, but thankfully, they were able to dismiss their students. It had been a long night for everyone!!
This is weird. I remember seeing you at a family birthday party like seven years ago. Never guessed I'd see you on reddit.
What is your worst experience with kids you've had while playing at a show?
That's awesome! There have been several projectile vomit events during school shows. You can always tell when it happens because all of a sudden, the middle of a song, all the kids back up.
My heart always breaks for the kid who is sick. It's never fun to be sick at school, away from your parents. But then to do something embarrassing on top of that just adds insult to injury.
I really just wanted to tell you how much respect i have for what you did for the kids and teachers. Really awesome act of kindness, and for that you have my grattitude and appreciation. Honestly, you took on a tough situation and handled it extremely well, so thank you.
Thanks! I keep saying this, but it truly was done on a whim. The teachers are the one that really handled the tough situation. I just thought that maybe I could give them a break for a while.
Is there anywhere that I could listen to your music? The post is only a picture.
Sure! All my songs are on my bandcamp site: http://rogerday.bandcamp.com
And you can see a couple of videos from my latest project on my website:
So uhhh.. I'm 33, and listening to the music on your link while I work.
Vulture Vomit is just brilliant. I doubt I would rock out to it a whole lot.. but this is great kid's music.
I'm buying these tracks for my nieces. Keep up the good work man!
EDIT: Before I put down my money on bandcamp, is there another location where you prefer people buy your music? Like a personal site? Somewhere you get a bigger cut?
Vulture Vomit is one of my favorites! I'm glad you like it. Bandcamp is a great option for downloading songs. You can also go to CD Baby and find everything you need there to, links to iTunes and physical CDs. http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RogerDay
Indeed. That's from a live concert, shot ironically enough in Birmingham at a theater on the campus of Samford University.
Hi Roger, first off, as a parent and part-time educator, I want to say thank you...those kids and teachers were in a pretty bad position, and from everything I've heard, you made their night much more bearable.
- How did the "concerts" come about?
- What was your favorite request from the kids?
- When did you finally sign off?
Thanks!! They were in great spirits though, even after spending the night at school.
The concerts really were an off the cuff, spur of the moment idea. I've done only a little bit with Skype at Christmas, birthdays. Enough to know that it might be possible if someone at the school could make it happen on their end. So with that, I started trying to get in touch with some of the teachers at the schools. Then I put out a facebook blast to everyone. I truly had no idea if it would even work. Would they be able to hear? Could they connect to some kind of screen? This was definitely not a situation where I had a specific rider that I said "I need this connection and that cord, etc". It was just a, "let's see if we can figure this out" deal. And it worked!!
My favorite request was to sing my song "Mosquito Burrito". One of the schools knew the song really, really well. The motions and everything. Even with the latency of the computer screen, it worked great!
I was checking on schools and teachers until around noon. By then, nearly everyone had a good plan to get home. I sang from about 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
UPVOTE for being awesome.
Thanks so much!
What you did IS awesome!
I wish I could give you a trophy.
What is your favorite pun? In case you didn't know reddit loves puns.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Also...you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
He's a dad so I'm hoping for a good dad joke.
I don't know any good Dad jokes. But I know some really bad musician jokes.
What do you if a songwriter in Nashville knocks on your door? Pay him for the pizza.
Thanks everyone for coming by! It's well after midnight here, so time for me to go to sleep. I'll check tomorrow and see if there are any further questions anyone has. Good night!!
Thank you! What gave you the idea?
It really was just spur of the moment. Since I grew up in Birmingham, I was watching events closely. I have several family members who are teachers, one of whom got stranded at a middle school. By the time evening rolled around, it was clear that anyone who hadn't left wasn't going to be able to get home. The roads were simply impassable. As I checked my FB news, I saw that I knew several of the teachers who were stranded. It took a few tries, but I finally got in touch with them. I told them I wasn't sure if it would work or not, but that we should give it a try.
Do you ever work with other children's musicians/singers? Who would you like to work with in the future?
Yes indeed. I recorded a song called "I Like Yaks!" with Billy Jonas. I've also recorded with Indigo Girls on a song called "Ready to Fly". Nanci Griffith added a cool harmony part to a song called "Parachute Girl". The coolest of all though was when Buddy Holly's band The Crickets played and sang on a song of mine called "Roly Poly".
Listening to "Ready To Fly" now.
How long were you at your computer doing these concerts? (From what time of the day to what time)
I was singing for about an hour and a half. With the pre-planning and the follow-up to make sure I didn't leave anyone out, it was about 5 hours.
Hey Roger, thanks again for doing this AMA! My question is, what is your favorite song that you've written? Mine is "Mosquito Burrito"
I used to tell people that my favorite song was whatever song I had most recently written. But since my daughter left for college, I don't hesitate to say my favorite song is the one I wrote for her called "Parachute Girl". It's about girl with lots of courage in her heart to follow her dreams.
Wow, I am really enjoying your username!
Thanks! My youngest son who's a very clever young man and a pretty good soccer player suggested I just use my own name.
How many likes has your Facebook gotten since Reddit posted about you? A lot, I'd imagine!
I've heard from a bunch people. It's been fun! I realized I was on reddit when my son came home from high school and was grinning from ear to ear. Then my older son called me from Virginia and said all his college friends were talking about. That's when I realized why I was getting so many FB friends.
I just wanted to say thank you for bringing the joy of music to young people across the country. In a time when music and arts programs are being cut (especially in nc), you may be their only exposure to the arts, and that's a very important thing. You played a show at my daughter's school in NC some time ago and it inspired her to take guitar lessons.
Thank you for what you do!
Wow! That's amazing! I'll be back in North Carolina next week playing shows Mecklenburg and Wake counties.
Music in the schools is critical. My own kids benefited so much from having the arts at an early age. Our music teacher here at our elementary school in the community of Franklin is unbelievable. She puts on musicals with every single grade every single year. And they're all fantastic.
It's given them the foundation to continue music in middle school, high school and college. Without that foundation, I don't know if they would have been nearly successful.
There have been schools I've played -- more than one -- where my programs was the only music the kids had all year. Not just an assembly. I mean music of any kind. I always feel a lot of pressure at those shows because my songs literally may be the only exposure those students have music.
For those who don't know him very well (and since he's such a nice guy, he won't tell ya) let me say that Roger Day is actually quite a big deal in the kid's music biz. My wife & I met him where we were performing on the same stage at a festival many years ago. We fell in love with his music (and him) instantly. So does pretty much everyone that meets him.
Seeing him do this kinda thing is no surprise to us - his generosity with his time and positive words are almost equal to his talent. Honored to call him a friend and so happy that he's getting some recognition from my favorite online community.
Thanks for being cool reddit...and for recognizing pure class.
I'm blushing. You're too kind. One of the great things about this business is so many are drawn to create for kids because at it's heart, it's a joyful thing to do. There's really no other way to describe it. Wouldn't you agree?
What musical aspirations do you have? Was it always to perform to kids?
There was a TV show a few years back about a rock band who did kid's parties to make ends meet. It was called Z Rock.
It took me a while, but when I found this niche of writing and singing for kids I haven't really looked back. There are so may creative challenges when writing for children. My audience could be three year olds, just learning basic skills like counting, and following directions. Or I could be writing for 4th and 5th graders and teaching them how a coastal ecosystem works. So it's never, ever boring. And there are always new challenges!
Firstly, thanks for doing what you did.
As a musician, what are your thoughts on the arguable "overproduction" of pop music these days, with autotune, digital processing etc?
You're welcome! Auto Tune and digital production are very useful tools. But the temptation is to use them as a crutch. I was listening to old Louis Armstrong songs just last night. He sang AND played on those early songs all in one take. That means, if he couldn't hit those notes day in and day out, there's no way he could make a record. Any pitch issues he had were just part of the performance. It's what makes it human. Had you put Auto Tune on there, you just might have killed the very thing we love about it now. Having said that, Auto Tune, used sparingly, can be a useful tool in the studio. But if you use it to make everything absolutely perfect, you'll wind up with a lifeless record.
Roger, entertaining kids stuck in the snow/ice storm was an amazing thing to do. Hat's off! My question to you... what's the funniest mis-interpretation of the lyrics to one of your songs? (like "looking for pie with almonds" for "Lucy in the sky, with diamonds")
Well, one of my most requested songs is called "It's a No No to Kiss a Rhino". But often, kids have trouble making an "R" sound. It comes out as a "W" sound. I'll let you figure out the rest!!
Hey my friend!!! What you did was typical Roger. I was able to get home from the school where I teach but 2 of my boys got stuck on the way. Ironically Jay had to leave his truck at Day Optical and walk a while before I was able to meet him. It runs in the Day family as they were so willing for these young people to leave vehicles there where I knew they would be safe. Hope to see you soon in the Dale!!!
Wow! It's great to hear from you! I'm glad Day Optical was able to help you out! I was checking on my parents when I began to realize how bad it was. Then I realized my sister and niece were both stranded at their schools. My sister got home finally. But my niece spend the night there. What a day! I hope everyone got home safely!
What do you think of Reddit?
This is my first time on it. So far so good!
I just want to say thank you for what you did. I'm sure the children enjoyed it very much. I live very close to Birmingham and my mother couldn't come home that night because of the snow.
How much do you appreciate Southern Hospitality?
Thanks! Yes, I was concerned about my parents as well. They live in Birmingham too. The great thing is that everyone truly took care of everyone else. What a beautiful thing!
Best thing since sliced read!
Can I have an autograph
Sure! Where would you like it sent? And to whom should I autograph it?
you probably won't see this but I work with your nephew. He introduced me to your music. Just wanted to say I really enjoy what you do and have been introducing my son to your songs. He is still little but its great seeing him get into listening to music at this age. Thanks for what you do.
That's awesome!! My nephew rocks the free world, a very talented musician with a great sense of humor! I hope I'll see you at my shows in Birmingham this summer.
Hi Roger! I have a niece and nephew who are both under 5 and I would LOVE to get them access to your songs! Are your CDs available for purchase online through your sites? Do you ship to Canada? Their mother loves to have sing-a-long time with them and I know that she would love to have a copy of your songs to share with them! :)
Yes indeed! This is the best place to purchase my CDs and DVDs. They ship to Canada all the time. I've played a few shows in Saskatoon, Edmonton and Toronto. I still need to play Vancouver!! I've never been to that part of Canada.
CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RogerDay
You can also download the songs from iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/roger-day/id47564920
If you want to stream the songs here's my Bandcamp site. You can also purchase digital downloads there too.
Hey man. Thanks so much for what you did for those kids! A lot of people don't understand what a big deal it was for us here in Birmingham. It's kinda like when the hurricane hit New Jersey. In the South, that would have been nothing really - we'd be drinking beer and slowing down a bit, but other than that life would go on. But to New Jersey it was a big deal because they just don't deal with stuff like that on a regular basis.
No real questions, I just wanted you to know that I saw what you did on the news and showed my 12 year old daughter. She remembers you from when you came to her elementary school here in Homewood, and was a huge fan, so she was like "Oh yeah, he was awesome!" You have a huge impact on a lot of kids, and in a very positive manner, so just keep being awesome.
Thanks! Tell your daughter I said hello! I attended school in Homewood up to third grade. It's always a real treat when I have the chance to go back.
I travel a good bit and no matter what part of the country I visit, there's something you have to learn to deal with. For southerners, heat and humidity are no big deal. I played in Wisconsin last year, and the kids didn't blink an eye when it was time for recess and it was 5 degrees. They're used to it. I always get a little nervous in California about earthquakes. And I had a show cancelled in North Carolina one time because a hurricane moved inland an caused massive flooding.
Hey everyone. Feel free to ask questions again. I'll answer them as quickly as I can.
Mr. Day, It's cool to finally get to talk to you (so to speak).
I grew up on your music. You played at a small elementary school named Deer Valley Elementary in Hoover, Alabama back in 2003 or 2004, when I was in Kindergarten. I saw how much fun you had with music, and it inspired me to go down that same route. Now, at 16 years of age, I play guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion (drums, marimba, etc.), and I produce music on my computer.
It's because of you that music became such an integral part of my life back when I was too young to understand its significance and power, and for that, I thank you with all my heart.
As for a question, what music did you enjoy listening to growing up? I would imagine what you listened to as a teenager/child was what inspired you to start playing the guitar and singing, and I'm curious as to who that was :D
Wow! This just made my day!! I loved those shows at Deer Valley Elementary. It's been a few years since I've played there. High school was where I really fell in love with music. I played sax for the Gardendale High School band -- and was Drum Major too. I also spent 4 years singing in the chorus, traveling all over the world before it was done.
I was inspired to play music mainly by listening to my older brother's record collection. He had lots of Beatles records. And Credence Clearwater stuff. And a few lesser known groups like Rare Earth. I would sneak into our basement and listen when I knew he wasn't home. Then another of my sisters had a guitar. When she went to college, I would sneak into her room and play it. Finally my parents saw that I was serious enough about it that maybe they should buy me my own guitar. Which they did.
The first song I learned was "Stairway to Heaven". Pretty funny! It turns out it was a good choice because it's got tons of chords. I think it took me a month to get through the song the first time. But by the end of it, I had learned a bunch of chords.
Keep up the good work!! Can I get backstage passes when you're a big star?
Beatles, CCR, and Zeppelin? That's awesome!
And yeah, you bet! Even if I don't get famous, I'm gonna be a musician until I physically can't be one anymore, so before long I imagine I'll arrange something!
That's great. You've got a good future ahead of you. Are you a White Stripes fan? The closest I came to Jack White was visiting a studio in records in Nashville. It's all vintage stuff: tape, analog boards, old mics. It looked a little like an antique shop. But very cool!
I love Jack White a lot, but I have a friend who absolutely adores him, more than I ever could. As far as the blues are concerned, I'm a White Stripes/Black Keys/Flat Duo Jets guy. My third favorite album (after Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and The Doors' "L.A. Woman") is the Black Keys' "Rubber Factory."
Flat Duo Jets! Dexter Romweber is the greatest! (better than that Jack White knockoff of him).
If you're 16 and listening to that already, you're gonna go far.
Oh definitely! As much as I love Jack White (and as good of a songwriter he is), I've never felt the amount of energy from any of Jack's performances than I feel from just one playthrough of "Please, Please Baby" by the FDJ.
I consider music more like a sampling platter. It's all there, why not try it all? I like everything from Black Sabbath to the Black Keys to Foster the People to Bass Drum of Death to DFA1979, and I love electronic music as well, from Deadmau5 to Squarepusher to Venetian Snares to Mord Fustang :D
Squarepusher to Venetian Snares
Two of my favorites for electronic right there. Add Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin and those are my top guys.
And yes, gotta try it all! :) Good luck with your music!
Thanks a lot, man :D
All right, y'all have given me some homework to do. I'll check all those groups out.
Did you play them a mixture of covers and originals?
Kuddos on the awesome thing that you did!
I play only original music. That's one of the things I love about working with kids and doing kids show. It's all my own material. That way, if I start to get tired of a song, I only have myself to blame.
Hi Mr. Day! We met a few weeks ago at a W&L student recital; Thomas is my RA! I just wanted to say that this is super cool. Also, do you have any embarrassing stories about Thomas?
Wow! How is Thomas doing as an RA? Any complaints so far? Does he take everyone to Sweet Things for breakfast on Saturday mornings? If not, he should.
Thomas is truly one of the most amazing young men I've ever known. I look up to him in every way and am proud of who he is, proud that he's my son.
Yes, there are some embarrassing stories about him, probably better left off the reddit page though. You'll have to prompt him to tell you his favorites!
what music do you like to listen to? we should start a campaign to get you on sesame street!
Sesame Street would be great!! I've been a fan since I was a kid.
My favorite band is U2. When they came to Nashville, all of 5 of the Days lined up hours before the show so we could be as close to the front as possible. We also all went to see Paul McCartney as a family.
But I grew up on singer/songwriters like Harry Chapin, Billy Joel, James Taylor. Then in college I moved to bands like R.E.M. then later Dave Matthews.
I'm also a big Switchfoot fan and have seen them a couple of times in concert and think they're great.
The Mosquito Burrito Brothers!! It's like a lot of band names. It started out as something funny, then it stuck.
For about a day we were the Flying Mosquito Burrito Brothers as a hat tip to the 70s alt-country band. I thought it was funny, but everyone else just gave me blank stares.
Thanks for doing this. I'm sure it meant a lot to these children and teachers.
You're very welcome. It has truly been my pleasure. I honestly didn't do this for any other reason than I thought it would be fun and would give the teachers a break after spending all night with the kids.
Having a tool like Skype was definitely the key. I'm just glad everyone made it happen!
Roger! Our family loves you! We have seen you many times at First Presbyterian Weekday School in Charlotte, NC. Our children are approaching middle school now but you are a huge part of their early years. Thanks for the memories!!
I love First Pres!! Some of my best shows happened right there.
I'm so glad you're kids have good memories. One of the very touching things about this brief flurry on Reddit is hearing several stories about kids who were inspired to play music in part by my visit.
I always tell my middle school friends that they get a pass for the next few years. But I expect them to start coming back to my shows in high school so they can help out!
What made you make the decision to become a children's musician when the popular choice is usually to be a 'rockstar' or 'popstar'?
I've had this conversation with several other children's musicians. Most of us had aspirations to be rockstars or popstars, with varying degrees of success. In my case, I toured nearly 200 colleges as a "coffeehouse" artist in the 90s. It's almost always the same pattern: you pick a guitar and sing for your friends because it's FUN and JOYFUL. Then you go on the road for 10 years where at some point the vagaries of the music business hit you and you get burned out and cynical. Then you have kids. And one day you pick up the guitar and sing a song and -- wow!! -- it's FUN and JOYFUL again! For me, once I got back into the fun and joyful camp, I decided I never wanted to leave it again.
Thank you for what you did! Even though my own kids made it home with their dad safely 2 hours after being dismissed, I was stuck at work, and I knew many of the teachers and kids that had to spend the night at their schools. Question: Do you believe people are just born with a love of music and talent for music-making, or is it something taught/ instilled in them by others? I enjoy listening to music, and I played flute in the high school band - but I've never had that obvious love for it like I've seen in you and your kids. Where did that come from? I would never refuse music lessons for my kids if they showed an interest in it, but am I missing some 'golden window of opportunity' by not enrolling them in lessons (interest or not)? They do get introductory, general music lessons at school - is that enough?
That's a good question. When I was young I took the obligatory piano lessons from the really strict, by the book piano teachers. I suffered through for a year then quit. But learned enough that I just started playing by ear. And LOVED it! I could muddle through reading the notes, enough that it helped me in band and especially choir. But not enough help me through the serious Theory & Composition classes in college. I took one year and just labored through it. Why? I just didn't have the formal keyboard skills.
So when my own three kids came along, I encouraged all of them to take piano lessons early. I told them, if you can understand the piano, you can apply to any instrument. My oldest has continued on into college where he's minoring in Composition. My middle earned a music scholarship to college where she plays in the marching band. Then my youngest has just signed up for chorus in high school.
All of them, in a way, benefitted my own shortcomings as a musician. They got enough theory in them that they've been able to apply it to other areas of their life.
What's your honest opinion on Baby Gonna Holla?
We're big William Avery fans at the Day house. My daughter used one of his songs to illustrate the issue of fairness on one of her college essays last year. And the "Chicken" song is still in heavy rotation on my pre-show set list.
Just came to say your a nice guy! not many people think of the children any more. I sing with my daughter every day.
Thanks! It will make a HUGE difference to your daughter. She is a very luck kid!
Did the island you visited for Marsh Mud Madness inspire the tv show Gullah Gullah Island? What is your best memory from filming there?
I filmed the DVD on Sapelo Island which is just south of Savannah off the coast of Georgia. It's the site of the University of Georgia Marine Institute.
My best memory is trying to get footage of an alligator. We looked and looked for two days. Then literally just hours before the ferry boat was leaving, we saw one sunning next to the road. From a safe distance, we followed it until we could get a shot of me walking on top of a culvert with the gator underneath. I was never in any danger, but still, it's not something I would typically do.
You sir, have an awesome last name. And beyond that, you seem like a wonderful person. Thanks for doing this AMA!
You're very welcome! I'm totally new to Reddit, so this has been a total and complete blast!! What's surprised me is how many people from around the country have contacted me from various stages of my music career. It's been really great!
How did you get in contact with the schools?
I saw what was happening and started checking my Facebook feed to see if any of the teachers were affected. Indeed they were. So I first sent a blast of private facebook messages to see if anyone was interested in trying to do a Skype concert. Once it looked like there would be interest, I sent out a general blast. The teachers did the rest to make it happen on their end. I can't believe it all worked!
What is the square root of 1698
41.206795556073 hat tip google.
How do you make a living as a children's musician? Are you full time? How's the pay?
View HistoryShare Link