Pass It On!
The Journal of the Children's Music Network
An Enduring Partnership:
An Interview with Patty Zeitlin and Marcia Berman
conducted by Sally Rogers
Patty Zeitlin and Marcia Berman are both long-time members of
CMN and mentors for many of us. While they are both known for
their magical songwriting (Patty's song, "Spin, Spider,
Spin," for example, and Marcia's "I'm Not Small"),
many readers may not be aware that they had a performing
partnership for many years which resulted in the recording of 12
albums separately and together.1
Both women started their careers in Los Angeles as teachers of
young children: Marcia taught kindergarten, and Patty taught
preschool. Both have taught courses in music for teachers at
various colleges. Marcia had her own radio program on KPFK (public
radio in L.A.) and for several years ran the children's concerts
at McCabe's, a music store in Santa Monica. Patty has conducted
workshops and has been a consultant in music for children for
UCLA, USC, Claremont Graduate Schools, Head Start, and more. Both
women's songs have appeared on the recordings of many other
artists, and children learn them at school from several of the
nationally known music-textbook series. The two met in 1962 when
Patty shyly sang one of her own songs to Marcia after attending
one of Marcia's concerts. Thus Patty's relationship changed from
Marcia Berman fan to performing partner, a relationship that
lasted over a decade and a half.
During their tours together, they traveled as far as to the
Hawaiian Islands, where they met traditional hula artist,
historian, teacher, composer, and choreographer Nona Beamer, whom
they later introduced to CMN at our 1994 gathering (see summer
1994 PIO!). Patty has been a puppeteer. playwright, and
musical director. She and Marcia also helped to establish a
support group for L.A. children's performing artists, CAMAL
(Children's Artists Making a Living), which in many ways was a
forerunner of CMN.
We thought it would be of interest to members to hear about
their careers, both separately and together, at a time when few
women were recording and performing nationwide, and when very few
people were singing songs for children that dealt with their
feelings and real concerns. Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s,
Patty and Marcia were part of the Folk Revival Movement and very
much affected by its music and politics.
PIO!: Marcia, let me start with you. Why don't you just give us
a little bit of background about your growing up and the role that
music played in your youth.
Marcia: Well, music was always very important in my family and
for me personally. It's up there real high with learning how to
read and tying my shoes. I had a record player and a couple of
records -- Tchaikovsky and I don't know what all. But being able
to make choices, to pick what I wanted to listen to -- that was a
thrill. In my family we sang a lot, and we would have lots of
celebrations and lots of trips. Even going to the beach was a big
trip. It seemed like it took about an hour to get there, and the
parents and aunts and uncles would start songs just to keep us
amused and entertained and more cooperative. So I got into the
habit of always being around my family and singing a lot.
PIO!: You grew up in California, right?
Marcia: In California in Los Angeles. I lived on the east side
of town in Boyle Heights, which was a very diverse community, but
primarily Jewish. That's my background: growing up in a Jewish
PIO!: Did you grow up learning many Jewish songs?
Marcia: There were Jewish songs and songs connected with the
holidays. Then when I was about 11 years old I joined a Jewish
organization. There I was introduced to folk music from different
countries -- Hebrew songs and songs from the Spanish Civil War.
That was quite an education! It was exciting being able to sing in
camp situations in an informal way, not like at school with all
the rules. It was just fun, and you learned at the same time. I
learned a lot. We sang all the time, and we had many discussions
on the role of women in different countries, and that was a big,
big influence in my life.
Boys and girls were treated equally. For example camping in the
mountains, we organized shifts to guard the camp through the
night. Two campers (boys and girls) walked around the campsite for
three-hour shifts. I remember taking a shift after midnight and
walking around with a flashlight, making sure everyone was safe.
It was really important for me to have that responsibility. The
things we did were not activities created just to keep us busy.
They were real things we were doing. We built a nature trail, and
the girls and boys were treated the same way. That was different
than at school, very different. In school girls couldn't wear
slacks, even when it got cold, because girls had to wear dresses.
You couldn't swing on the maypoles up real high, because your
underpants would show. Imagine, there were rules about that in my
But as far as music is concerned, I feel that folk music was
the biggest influence in my life and in my song writing. Growing
up and going through that whole Folk Revival Movement in the late
'40s and '50s and hearing all that music -- all that wonderful
music -- was a solid foundation to build on and to get ideas from.
PIO!: What about you, Patty? What role did music play in your
life as you grew up?
Patty: My mother wanted to be a concert pianist, but was single
and had to work. After work she practiced and listened to
classical records. We went to concerts on weekends, and I got
quite restless and bored, but the result was that music poured
through and out of me.
At eight, I could play piano by ear, picking out classical
pieces like Chopin's "Sonata in C" and, later on,
"Polonaise" and "Moonlight Sonata." At eight
or nine I composed classical-sounding pieces, little
"sonatas." My mother finally sent me for piano lessons,
but after I heard a piece played, I could repeat it, so the
teacher didn't know how to teach me note reading. It didn't seem
important to me anyway. Playing by ear was easier. I began to play
some popular tunes I heard on the radio. But to my mother,
classics were the only music worth listening to. Later we had
conflicts about it because I liked folk music, jazz, and musicals.
But now she appreciates my music.
When I was 15, a family from Arkansas moved into our
neighborhood. The grandfather played banjo and told ghost stories.
He also played this beautiful piece on the guitar, "The
Spanish Fandango," which I loved. I begged him to teach it to
me, so he did. He loaned me an old guitar, too, and I practiced
until my fingers were sore. I also heard Burl Ives'
"Wayfaring Stranger" radio show, and I asked my mother
to check out some folk-music books. Since I couldn't read notes, I
made up tunes or tried to repeat what Burl Ives sang on the radio.
PIO!: Who do you consider to be the biggest influence on your
Patty: Pete Seeger. When I was 16 he came to L.A. I had never
heard of him. He was doing a fundraiser for the American Committee
for the Protection of the Foreign Born. It was to keep people who
were born in other countries but were here, working for peace,
from being deported. My young Unitarian friends and I went to hear
him sing with his banjo in a big tent. We were thrilled to hear
him sing about all of the things we believed in -- peace, civil
rights, public housing, social justice. At the time I think I was
the only one in my high school who was against the A-bomb and for
Pete agreed to let us tape his concert, and when my friends and
I all went up to a summer camp after that, I learned every song on
the tape. It was so exciting to find music that expressed what I
believed in and that inspired me so much. Hearing Pete was a major
turning point in my life.
PIO!: Patty, what got you to start writing songs?
Patty: After learning to play guitar and hearing lots of
folksongs, I started writing. I didn't care for all of the lyrics
to some songs, like, "My horses ain't hungry, they won't eat
your hay," so I made up other words and added my own verses.
Then when I was 16, my boyfriend was drafted in the Korean War. So
I wrote a song about how sad it was for us to be apart during
PIO!: Marcia and Patty, you both grew up playing music and
singing, and it actually sounds like it was very much a part of
your being, certainly by the time you finished high school. When
did you meet each other? Were you already performing at that
Marcia: I was already performing and doing concerts, and Patty
came to one of those concerts. I think that was when we met, but
she can tell you that story.
Patty: Yes. When I became a preschool teacher I used records by
Marcia, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Sam Hinton, and
Ella Jenkins. Also, I used Malvina Reynolds' songs and some from
Ruth Crawford Seeger's book, American Folk Songs for Children. And
when the children asked me to sing about other things (like worms,
for example), I made up songs for them. I was living with a
friend, also a teacher, who heard me sing some of these songs. One
day she asked where I'd found them, and when I said I'd made them
up, she got very excited and said, "Marcia Berman is doing a
workshop, and you've got to sing her those songs!"
I didn't think my songs were anything special. But my friend
urged me to go, and I went because I really loved Marcia's work.
Afterward my friend put her hand on my back and pushed me gently
up to Marcia, saying, "You are going to sing for her, you
are!" I said, "No!" But she kept pushing until
finally there I was, in front of Marcia. I ended up singing
"My Little Horse." To my surprise, Marcia said she
really liked it and asked if I had more songs!
Marcia: What a song, what a great song! It was just so
terrific! I hadn't heard anything that good in such a long time. I
mean, the best songs I was hearing at the time were Woody's songs
and Malvina's songs and folk music. And this was right up there
with the best, it was so good.
PIO!: What attracted you, Marcia? What was so different about
Marcia: Oh, it had a certain feeling -- the way the lyrics and
the music fit together. It was about a horse and being friends
with it, and it had a calypso rhythm. [Sings:]
My little horse, my little horse, Mane and tail a-flying. My
little horse, my little horse, I love to go riding.
And while we're riding on our way, I sing to her, la la la la
She picks up her ears, she picks up her feet We go trot, trot,
trotting down Papana Street. 2
It goes on and on about this wonderful horse. It was a strong
image. I thought it was a dynamite song.
PIO!: And how long after that did Patty bring you some more
Marcia: She might have shared several more right at that time.
I know I was really excited.
Patty: I was stunned. I mean -- Marcia was a star! I couldn't
believe this really happened. I didn't value my songs. They came
to me effortlessly, so the thought that someone, especially
Marcia, would think they were good was amazing, quite astonishing.
Marcia: I felt these songs were so good, people should hear
them, so I said, "You really should make a record. In fact,
I'll do it with you!" I was just so happy, I thought, Hey,
let's do it! Remember?
Patty: You bet I do!
Marcia: And then, the next thing I suggested was that we should
get a man to sing with us, so we'd have some contrast, you know.
So I asked my friend, Dave Zeitlin, to come over and listen to the
songs and do some arrangements with us, which he did!
Patty: And not only that, we started dating and we ended up
getting married. [Everybody laughs]
Marcia: Years later, Patty and I lived in the same community
right across the street from each other, and she would run over
and say, "I've got a new song," and she'd sing it. [To
Patty] I remember when you came in and sang "Spin, Spider,
Spin." What a terrific song!
PIO!: Now how many years ago was it that you met? What year was
Patty: I think around 1960. But it took a long time to get
something produced. Marcia did get Folkways to do our first
recording, with her, David, and me. These were the first
children's songs I had written and that Marcia had heard. The
title of the album was to be A Castle in My City. But Folkways
didn't release it. For years we tried to get them to do so, but
they didn't. It came out many years later as a book and then a
cassette, but back then Marcia kept calling and sending telegrams.
Finally I paid a lawyer to get the rights to it back.
Marcia: Because it was just taking too long, and we didn't know
if it would ever be published.
Patty: Then we came up with a different idea. Marcia had been
talking with me about how music helps children to accept and
express feelings. I knew that was true because of my work with
preschoolers. So we did a tape for children called Won't You Be My
Friend? It was about identifying, accepting, and expressing
feelings. I was a preschool teacher with a small salary, so Marcia
funded the recording. We made a quality demo and sent it in. After
researching who would want it, we picked some companies we thought
would be interested. But we had both funny and disappointing
experiences with them. One of them wanted our songs but wouldn't
give us a contract.
Finally we found Educational Activities Records through
Children's Book and Music Center. Hap Palmer was with that
company, and we liked both the quality of the music he wrote and
the production. But when we submitted our songs to them, they
didn't want them. Next we asked Hap what to do to get our tape
listened to. He said we needed a proposal.
Marcia had funded the demo tape, so, to raise money to live on
while I took time off from work to do a good proposal, I bred my
Yorkie and sold her pups and did extra music workshops. Between
the two of us, we worked and resubmitted our tape, and this time,
it was accepted. We got a call from the president of E. A.
Records. He was at the airport and asked if we could come out and
talk with him. It was so exciting, wasn't it, Marcia?
Marcia: Yes, it was!
Patty: We drove out to this big hotel at the airport. He
treated us to lunch and asked if we'd do not just one recording,
but a whole series. We weren't paid much. It was 7.5 percent,
split between us, on the first one. But we renegotiated and got a
little bit more on the albums that followed.
Marcia: It was hard to find out at the time what the going rate
was. We didn't know that many people who were making records, and
it was kind of difficult to get such information. Malvina Reynolds
was very helpful. We could always talk to her and get her input as
to how she felt about various publishers and record companies and
ask what she was being paid for her songs. So we did have some
idea. But it took awhile before we caught on to what's involved in
making an album and the costs. And some of it in the beginning
seemed very mysterious, because the company was paying the cost of
production. And we were really producing it. We were coming up
with the concept of what it was going to be about. We hired the
musicians. They paid for it, but we did the organizing. I mean, we
really did do everything. We developed the concept, selected the
songs, made the arrangements, rehearsed the musicians, wrote the
album notes, and so on.
We later found out they were more businesspeople than
musicians. We hadn't been aware of that at first. We just assumed
that they had more of a connection to music than they did.
Sometimes we needed help, and the kind of help we needed -- well,
they couldn't give it.
Patty: Not with the recording part of it.
Marcia: Right. Later, in the 1980s, a ground-breaking thing
happened. Tom Hunter put out an album, and on the back he put
exactly how much it cost to make it. Do you remember that? It was
so fabulous -- it demystified the whole process!
PIO!: When had you started recording, Marcia?
Marcia: I had made two recordings in the '50s. The first one
was a recording of my own songs. In 1956 I did one for Folkways,
Activity Songs for Kids.
Patty: I used and loved those records in my preschool class,
before I met Marcia. That's why she was so special to me!
Marcia: Well, you know, although I wrote songs, I more often
sang Patty's songs than my own. I mean, I liked the process of
creating the songs and writing them. But there were certain songs
that she wrote that I used all the time that the children loved.
They were so useful and the children seemed to need them, like
"Scary Things," for one, and "Where's Mary,"
"One Little Bird," "Mr. Tickles," and
"Lots of Worms." These were all songs that I was using
PIO!: And you were teaching kindergarten at the time?
Marcia: No, I was teaching kindergarten in the '50s. By the
time I met Patty and was using her songs, I was going into schools
more often as a music person, doing music with the kids. I was
also leading some music classes for kids at schools and at the Ash
Grove, a coffee house and a venue for folksingers.
Patty: Marcia told me that sometimes the children even burst
into applause after she sang one of my songs.
Marcia: Ordinarily they didn't applaud after songs. But every
once in awhile there would be a song that they would applaud. You
know, it just surprised me. It was great to be able to use Patty's
Patty: That was so satisfying to hear, because I'd been told,
"That song's in calypso rhythm! That's too hard for
children." Or, "The words are so complicated." Or,
"The tune is -- whatever; children can't learn that."
One company wanted me to change the lyrics in a song. They were,
"Fuzzy, fuzzy caterpillar, crawling, crawling by. Don't you
know that someday you'll be a butterfly?" They wanted the
last line to begin, "Do you know," because they didn't
want that contraction there! I refused to change that.
PIO!: Were there ever times when you did make changes to your
Patty: Yes, but I did it because of the changing attitudes
toward women. I had written the songs for A Castle in My City in
the '50s. As time wore on, I realized one verse of "Fuzzy
Caterpillar" needed changing. One went like this:
Tiny, tiny baby, with your pretty curl, Don't you know that
someday you'll grow up to be a girl?
The one about the boy says,
Tiny, tiny baby, tell me if you can, Don't you know that
someday you'll grow up to be a man?
So I rewrote the girl's verse:
Tiny, tiny baby, smiling up at me, Don't you know that someday
a woman you will be? 3
PIO!: What other aspects of your records did you take into
consideration, like choosing musicians and material?
Patty: We carefully identified all of the musicians on our
recordings, giving them credit. When we used a particular style of
music -- such as jazz, as we did on Everybody Cries Sometimes --
we wrote liner notes about its roots, to show the respect we had
for that. We also made sure there were children of different
ethnic backgrounds on each album.
PIO!: I think you two were at the forefront of multicultural
recording and consciousness.
Patty: I guess we were, in that respect.
Marcia: I don't remember consciously thinking about that. We'd
been around for such a long time making music, and we had made so
many friends who happened to be from many ethnicities. So we
wanted to include them in these recordings We wanted to introduce
the children to new instruments, new sounds, new cultures. We
wanted them to hear all kinds of people and all kinds of voices --
not just one voice, but different textures -- men's voices,
women's voices, basso profundos and sopranos -- lots of diversity.
Patty: On each album we included an instrumental piece, without
lyrics, so children could listen and dance to a type of music and
instrumentation they might not hear otherwise.
Marcia: Making those records was one of the highlights of my
career! It was so exciting, especially working with an arranger
like John Bucchino. It was so great to have another ear in the
room. John could take a little kernel of a song and make an
accompaniment, and all of a sudden it was like it was framed, like
he had set some precious little gem, you know! It was just
thrilling -- the collaboration and the people we got to work with
and the friends we made.
PIO!: How many albums did you make together?
Marcia: Patty and I made seven albums together, in the '60s,
'70s, and '80s. Anne Barlin also approached us. I knew her from a
dance class that I had taken from her. She wanted to work with us,
so we did Rainy Day Dances, Rainy Day Songs. That was the only
album we did with the three of us.
Patty: Marcia continued working with Anne while I was writing a
book, A Song Is a Rainbow, which has unfortunately recently gone
out of print. I've made a proposal to the company to reissue it,
and I'm waiting to hear from them. When the book went out of
print, a large music distributor, Claris Music, was disappointed
about that, because they really liked the book and had sold lots
of copies. That was wonderful to hear. I spent three years being a
hermit to write that book. I worked so hard, and I'm glad I did.
Marcia and I had been searching for such a book and couldn't find
one, so I wound up writing it!
PIO!: Could you describe the book?
Patty: It's a child-development-based approach to teaching
music to preschool and kindergarten children. It offers creative
ways of encouraging children to make their own music, as well to
learn folk and composed songs. It has a section on games for the
use of rhythm instruments, and another on dance -- both creative
and structured movement. It's got songs by and interviews with
Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Ella Jenkins, and Marcia, talking
about their musical backgrounds and childhood musical experiences.
The first chapter addresses the fears many people have, such as
a fear that keeps them from singing at all, or a fear of reading
notes. It's something Marcia and I ran across so often. So I spent
a lot of time experimenting and researching how to help people to
overcome such fears.
PIO!: That sounds very wise.
Patty: It also has a huge discography and bibliography -- I
think it was the largest in the field at the time. I listened to
every single record on there at the time and reviewed each of them
myself. Of course, now I'd have to revise it.
PIO!: Right -- and I don't think you could do every single
available recording now. There's so much more these days. Now,
both of you had worked in classroom situations. I wonder how much
you thought about gender issues when you were teaching the little
kids. Did they come up? Did you think about what effect the songs
would have on how kids thought about themselves as girls and boys
and women and men?
Marcia: I think so, but not in a conscious way. It was
important to treat the children equally and give them every
opportunity to do everything, regardless of gender. It felt very
natural to do that. Occasionally I would change a little snippet
of a song if I felt that it was leaving something out. For example
we used to sing, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream."
And you know how there's the part where the men are signing papers
and making all the rules about how the world is going to be? I
would slip in "women and men," and it would sing just as
well. So I think I was becoming aware that women weren't always
included. Even something like "Michael Row the Boat
Ashore" -- maybe there's a historical reason to say,
"Sister, help to trim the sails," but I always thought,
No, why can't the sister trim the great big sail? Why does she
have to be a helper? I think I was reacting to not wanting women
to have to be in that role of a helper, rather than being a person
doing whatever needs to be done.
I'm not big on changing songs, and I know that sometimes they
have historical importance and you don't want to be watering them
down. I would keep as close to the original as I possibly could.
But I was aware that something needed to be changed. We needed
more input from women, the point of view of a girl. But I don't
think I consciously sat down and planned it out. It just happened.
Patty: I remember an Earl Robinson song, "We're in the
Same Boat, Brother," which I loved. But I felt left out. So,
I changed it to "We're in the Same Boat, Sister, We're in the
Same Boat, Brother."
PIO!: So you changed it to sing that way? I hear a lot of
people do it that way now.
Patty: Yes, I did it that way. I got my teacher training at the
Center for Early Education, a school founded by a group of
psychotherapists who were very concerned with gender equality. So
we were taught to make sure girls had time to play with blocks if
they wanted to and boys had a chance to play in the doll corner.
PIO!: I like that you said that the boys could play with the
dolls, too, because I think that's one end that sometimes gets
left out, that the boys get to have the other side as well.
Patty: By the '70s, or even before, there were lots of
children's' picture books showing women in roles like fire
fighters and mail carriers. But there were no songs about roles
like that for girls. Educational Activities Records picked up on
the need for recordings of such songs. So I put together an album
called My Mommy Is a Doctor. Marcia sang on several of the songs
with Dave and me, including her own song, "Library." In
the end, it didn't sell well, maybe because the title made it seem
to be about doctors. I've always wondered about that. Another
reason might have been that the company wasn't really sure of how
to market our work.
Marcia: The company didn't really know what to do with us.
Their focus was more on folk and square dancing, and I think they
didn't really get the material out there because they didn't know
what to do with it. I remember when I went to New York to meet
them, I took an album for them to consider. While I was talking to
them it seemed like their whole area of expertise was different
from what we were doing. We didn't fall into the niche that they
were creating in the market. That was too bad -- I just never
really realized that, did you Patty?
Patty: No, I didn't. I assumed they knew what they were doing.
At the time we were the only recording artists we knew of who were
writing songs about feelings and about nature and themes like
nonstereotyped roles. The only other person we knew of doing
something like that was Mr. Rogers. But of course he had his TV
PIO!: So, did My Mommy Is a Doctor go out of print?
Patty: I reissued it, but it's amazing to me that after all
these years anything is still in print! But my songs are out in
other ways. They've been published in textbooks and are played on
Canadian TV on Mr. Dressup, The Elephant Show, and The Fred Penner
PIO!: How long did you end up singing together and performing
Marcia: Our performances together were an outgrowth of our
recording together. The records were there to get the music out
there for people to hear, and then after awhile we started doing
performances. Then we were part of a collective, kind of a
precursor to CMN, called CAMAL --
PIO!: Is that an acronym for something?
Marcia: Yes -- Children's Artists Making A Living, or as my
sons say, Children's Artists, Mean And Lean. [Laughs]
Patty: The principles we shared for CAMAL were almost identical
to those of CMN. We were a small group, though, about eight, all
local to the West Coast. We started a newsletter and did a bit
more outreach later, bringing in a few more people from Northern
California, such as Bob Reid and Nancy Schimmel. We also sang on
Uncle Ruthie's radio show for years and years.
PIO!: Whenever I've been to Southern California, I've heard her
show mentioned. It's had a great affect on people. Isn't it still
Marcia: Yes, it's called Halfway Down the Stairs, aired on
KPFK. You know, we really didn't have a venue for our music to
reach people, at least on the radio. And so it was great to have
someone like Uncle Ruthie come along, who was really committed to
getting this music out to listeners.
PIO!: So, in your time spent performing, did women support each
other well? Was there a camaraderie of sisters in the biz?
Marcia: I think we were earlier than that. Patty, don't you? It
seems like we -- men and women together -- supported each other,
because we were in such a different field.
I was in a women's consciousness group, though, which really
made me aware of how women are discriminated against, in a way
that I had never really realized it before. It was very powerful,
that experience. We met for over a year and became lifelong
friends, many of us. We helped each other and were supportive of
each other. You know, for a long time I thought that men were
musical geniuses --
PIO!: Oh, I'm so glad you are telling this story!
Marcia: I really believed that they got it through genetics,
and I always referred to my men friends as musical geniuses. I
did! And I didn't think that I could compete with them. I even
remember once when I heard Tracy Newman playing the guitar, and I
said to myself, Oh, you know she plays like a man. Can you believe
I said that? And then, in a women's consciousness group, I
remember all of a sudden the myth was exploded when I realized
that Tracy could play well because she practiced all the time! She
spent hours and hours playing the guitar. And I thought, Hey, I
wonder if that's what Dave Z. and Frank Hamilton have been doing
all this time? They must have been sitting up there in their
rooms, just playing the guitar, getting good! So I was really
brainwashed. The women's consciousness work got me on the path of
thinking for myself and learning as much as I could learn. It
changed my life.
Patty: I remember going to the first men's consciousness
conference. Women were invited but couldn't participate, which was
fine with me. I went because I wanted to find out what men felt. I
had no idea what life was really like for them. So I sat in a
men's circle and saw a film that horrified me, called The Lives of
Boys. It showed how boys had to beat each other up and compete
brutally to prove themselves and be accepted. When the film was
over, the leader asked the men for their reaction to it. Some of
them were crying. I'd never seen men cry in a group like that, or
talk about how they experienced that brutality in life and weren't
close to other men. I was amazed to find out how lonely men were,
that they didn't have the same kind of close friendships women
I had no brothers, and I had an angry father who was only with
us briefly, so I missed out on positive family experiences with
men. So hearing this was the first opening of my heart to feel
compassion for men and what they were going through. One part of
the women's movement I couldn't identify with was the "hating
men" part -- or that's what it looked like to me. I thought
that whatever men did to hurt came out of their distresses and
that they were human beings, just like women.
Marcia: I didn't run into that -- I mean, as far as women
hating men. I think they were hating the institutions -- the ways
they were being treated and the way the culture passed down the
information that made you believe you were a second-class citizen.
I was angry at that, not angry at the men specifically, but angry
at the whole situation that keeps that oppression going and
doesn't ever question it.
Patty: I was definitely in agreement with that part of it. But
somehow it got directed at men. For example, when I wanted to get
My Mommy Is a Doctor recorded by Olivia Records, I found they had
a policy that no men could be on any of their recordings. Because
I had a man -- my husband David -- playing on the record, they
wouldn't produce it. It had to be all women. I was very annoyed.
Marcia: That sounds silly. But I think sometimes women needed
that encouragement, to not have men there so that they could
really open up and blossom, have their chance, have their fair
shake. I'm thinking about groups that I was in throughout the
'60s, when we were opposing the war in Vietnam. Artists would get
together, and we'd have these political meetings, women and men
together. If a woman would have an idea to share, she'd talk about
it and get no reaction. Then a man would get up with his ideas,
say the same thing this woman had said earlier, and all of a
sudden everybody was listening to him, saying, Yes, let's do that!
Women were invisible. That's why when I went into the women's
consciousness group, I learned that everybody had something
important to say. Everybody was listened to, and that was really
earth shattering for women: Somebody was actually listening to
you! I felt empowered.
Patty: Yes, I remember that feeling. Suddenly you could be
listened to -- it was amazing.
PIO!: Now as we near the end of our time, I'd like to ask each
of you if you have anything you'd like to say to conclude,
particularly about your work with kids and where you see your work
going from here.
Patty: I'd like to say something about the Children's Music
Network. Marcia and I were at a CMN gathering in New York, and we
just looked at each other in amazement. Here we had gone so many
years with just this handful of people we knew about, who had the
same values we did and were working with children. And now here
were all these people who had the same interest and commitment. It
was a very touching moment. Tears came to my eyes. It was very
powerful to know that you were all there and doing this work that
would be carried on.
Marcia: There's a certain isolation being in your own little
community, doing what you do. There's something that's so
broadening and exciting about meeting people in different parts of
the country and finding out what they're doing. There are lots of
people out there doing what we do, in their own ways. You find
that you are part of a community that is much bigger than you ever
Patty: Yes, very inspiring. It gave me a lot of hope.
Marcia: It's so important that it's noncompetitive, that it's
totally supportive. It's so unlike so many other areas of life
where people are expected to compete. In CMN we all cooperate.
That means a lot to me. The friendships, the music, and the whole
idea of being a network and sharing with people makes this
organization special to me.
PIO!: Patty, what are you looking forward to in your future?
Patty: I'll eventually do more children's recordings. I'd also
like to do more musical theater. A play of mine, Long Ago, Right
Here, has been done in Seattle and in other cities, too. My most
recent recording, Angels and Vegetables, is for grownups, but
older children enjoy it, too. I hope to do more music for adults.
Presently I'm writing a fantasy/fiction novel for ages 10 and up.
I also want to develop shows that focus on nonviolent
communication, as taught by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a
world-renowned mediator and teacher. He works with puppets and
songs, and I've been practicing and teaching his methods.
PIO! Marcia, what about you?
Marcia: I see myself continuing on the same path, being
supportive and carrying on in the local CMN chapter, being a
resource for people, and reaching out and trying to meet new
people who are doing this work. I also will continue to spend time
organizing our local peace camp, sponsored by the Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom.
PIO!: I'd like to thank you both for sharing your lives with
PIO! readers. It's been most enjoyable.
||Sadly, only a few are still in print.
Patty’s albums still in print are My Mommy Is a Doctor, and A
Song Is a Rainbow. Patty’s and Marcia’s collaborations still
in print are Everybody Cries Sometimes, Won’t You Be My Friend?
and Spin, Spider, Spin. The Best of Marcia Berman is available
from the Marcia Berman Fund for Music for Young Children.
||“My Little Horse,” by Patty
Zeitlin, © 1960/ 1991, used with permission.
||“Fuzzy Caterpillar,” by Patty
Zeitlin, © 1967/ 1995, used with permission.
Sally Rogers lives in Abington, Connecticut, and is a member of the CMN board of directors.