Chinese singer-songwriter and author Liu Jian and his American journalist wife Rebecca Kanthor were disappointed in the lack of new children’s music in China, so they decided to create their own music festival. The goal? To give their own children, and all kids in China, a chance to hear the best live music for families and learn about different cultures through music.
The festival, called Hand in Hand, will be in Beijing for the first time on June 3 and will feature live performances by the American husband and wife-duo Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band and the Dutch band Hippe Gasten – both bands produce music specifically for children.
‘As people who love good music we want to share the best with our kids. Often times we hear some children’s music and it’s really poor quality and the lyrics are not good,’ Rebecca Kanthor explains.
‘Music for kids should be respectful of kids, not just treating them as a little person who doesn’t have any taste. Kids have taste, so we want to give them the best. And we also want parents not to be bored,’ she says.
A festival designed for kids
Jian and Kanthor met through music – in a bar where he was playing in a band - and music has always played an important role in their relationship. Two kids later, they still love music and going to festivals together. But it’s not as easy as it used to be.
‘One time we took our daughter to a music festival where my husband was performing and it was just a really bad experience. The sound levels were way too high for her, it was raining, there was no place to change her diaper and it was just a mess,’ Rebecca Kanthor recalls.
The couple wanted to change that and soon after started planning their own family-friendly festival.
Hand in Hand is designed with the youngest music lovers in mind. The sound levels are adjusted to 85-90 decibels to suit kids’ ears, bilingual lyrics are projected on screen and kids are invited up on stage to join the bands. There are even nursing and diaper-changing rooms for the littlest rockers.
Music for kids all over China
In spring 2017, the first Hand in Hand music festival kicked off with a tour of five cities.
One year later, the festival is going to nine cities, including Beijing, with the same line-up as last year.
Rebecca Kanthor is very excited to keep growing the festival so it reaches more families.
‘Our first goal is to bring the best bands for kids from ten countries to 100 cities in China over the next five years. We do three tours a year and we try to get to as many cities in China as possible,’ she says. ‘In Beijing and Shanghai kids get so many opportunities to experience international culture and international music, but in the small cities they really don’t have many opportunities so it’s very exciting to be able to share this music with kids all over China.’
Hand in Hand music festival is in Beijing on June 3 from 10am to 2pm at Beijing Exhibition Center Theater. The ticket price is 160-560RMB. The show is best suited for kids from one to 13 years.