Customer reviews that I have read for “Teach Me Chinese: A Musical Journey Through the Day” fall into two distinct categories. We can summarize them this way:
CON: “Awful!! An unbearable recording with the Chinese singer’s high-pitched voice hopelessly out of tune! We hate it!”
PRO: “Excellent! My children adore this CD and have learned all the Chinese lyrics already! We love it!”
“Whoa,” you’ll wonder, “were these reviewers all listening to the same recording?”
They were, it turns out.
My conclusion: Yes.
With both assessments.
This CD presents 21 songs with lyrics alternating between Chinese and English—and one of the strengths of this recording, making the songs more accessible to those who don’t yet speak Chinese, is the blend of English and Chinese lyrics.
However, the first time we played this CD for our youngsters on a road trip, my wife (a native speaker of Chinese) and I did indeed cringe at the Chinese singer’s occasional poor cadence and missed notes. (The English language singers’ performances, however, are quite professional. My wife may in fact have a secret crush on the male singer, based solely on his vocal performance in the song “On the Bridge” … but that’s my problem, not yours.)
Back to the Chinese vocals. At first, they were sometimes painful to hear…but then they became comically amusing…and then—especially after we noticed our three year-old singing Chinese verses to herself and using Chinese vocabulary from the CD later on—the Chinese rendition became delightful in its own way.
We do still laugh when we hear the singer stumble over certain lines, but taken with a grain of salt, such “features” are now part of what makes this CD a source of fun on our longer trips in the car. And of course our youngsters are still getting additional exposure to the sounds of Mandarin…even if they’re not sung in tune 100% of the time.
In a nutshell:
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