Ms Rachel YouTube star wants to sing with her little ones

Ms Rachel YouTube star wants to sing with her little ones

One spring morning in Manhattan, Rachael Griffin Acurso was running to a recording studio to pick up a pastry. As soon as she stepped out of the metro in the bright sunlight, she got hot and took off her jacket without thinking.

And just like that, she had unknowingly turned into her alter ego.

Dressed in her signature bluejean overalls, pink T-shirt and a matching headband, she becomes the video’s friendly lady: the one who gleefully mouths the words, babbles if necessary, waves her hands and gives instructions to her little audience. Sings to give.

She was publicly turned into Ms Rachael, who was described in a TikTok comment as “Beyoncé for kids”. For many, she has become a household name as she has seen her children’s video, “Songs for Littles,” skyrocket in popularity over the past year, garnering over 4.8 million YouTube subscribers. Used to be.

“I’m stuck recording videos for everyone,” said Ms. Griffin Acurso, sighing when she arrived a few minutes late at the 10th-floor studio in Midtown. She was asked to record a video of some fans standing in line for pastries.

“But I don’t mind. I love helping people make their day better,” he added.

Then, she was ready to show off her charm.

She was interacting with everyone on the sets, be it the cast or the technical staff. She asked: What time were the actors’ Broadway shows that day? What was everyone watching on TV lately? Wasn’t it cool to be filming in an actual studio instead of her one-bedroom apartment?

When the call for lights, camera, action came, she smiled and her voice raised an octave.

“Can you be a crab?” Ms. Rachel pointed to the camera. “Now, let’s be a starfish!”

She made it look easy, because the work that made her an internet celebrity for kids is much more than a performance for her. “People say ‘Ms. Rachel’s acting, but that’s really who I am, except a more upbeat version,” said Ms. Griffin Acurso. “I have found my calling.”

Hardly any money was spent on promotion or advertising for “Songs for Little Children,” Ms. Griffin Akerso said. Although he is wildly popular on other social media platforms as well TIC Toc And InstagramMs. Griffin Akerso has the most followers youtube, which remains the platform where his work generates the most revenue from paid advertisements. The business has become so successful in recent months that Ms. Griffin Akerso’s husband, Aaron Akerso, quit his full-time job as Associate Music Director and Associate Conductor for “Aladdin” on Broadway.

Growing up in the small community of Springvale, Maine, Ms. Griffin Acurso was never quite sure what her career path would be. But she knew she loved serving children and people. A job working with children at the Boys & Girls Club first inspired the idea of ​​combining those interests with music, although it took many years for those two passions to come together.

She suddenly moved to New York City in 2009 after reading a quote by Mark Twain that suggested people regret not going after their dreams.

She worked as a nanny and did odd jobs. Less than a year later, she met Mr. Acurso at a Unitarian church on the Upper East Side and found a kindred spirit.

Mr. Acurso has a distinct memory of their second date, when she asked him, “Don’t you love Mister Rogers?” She was referring to her fondness for Fred Rogers, the friendly television host who spread his message of kindness to generations of children.

She and Mr. Acurso collaborated to write songs and produce music about mental health. Ms. Griffin Acurso earned a Master’s degree in Music Education from New York University and began working as a music teacher at Bedford Park Elementary School in the Bronx. They married in 2016 and had a son, Thomas, in 2018.

Ms. Griffin Akerso quit teaching full time to be with her son. Around his first birthday, he noticed that he was behind in important achievements, especially in speech. “His mouth was not connecting to his brain,” he said.

The couple sought speech pathology services, but Ms. Griffin Akerso wanted to supplement their education. His search was not successful, so he started making videos.

They filmed close-ups of his mouth to show the pronunciation of words and recorded their own versions of children’s songs, making sure to include voices, sign language and visuals. They also recorded music classes she taught in person, and the couple posted videos on YouTube. They felt that if others found them helpful then it would do no harm.

The video created a buzz. He said of his success, “It means a lot to everybody, but to me it seems accidental.”

Maura Moyle, associate professor of speech pathology and audiology at Marquette University, said in Ms. Rachael’s video she covers key techniques that speech therapists use to help children, such as speaking slowly, speaking in simple sentences and repeating them

Research shows that young children are attracted to “parenties” or “matriarchies” – the kind of “baby talk” prominently shown in videos, with pitched voices and exaggerated facial expressions Yes, Dr. Moyle said.

“She is prompting babies to pay attention to language and pay attention to speech sounds,” Dr Moyle said. Videos are not a substitute for speech therapy or children’s interactions with adults or caregivers, she said, but they can be “a great tool to use.”

Joseph Viramontez and his wife, Krystle Parker, struggled to secure speech therapy and other treatments for their 2-year-old daughter, Arnia. Many nights, he said, he went to bed feeling like he was failing because his daughter was frequently angry, and he and his wife didn’t understand what she was trying to tell them.

Mr. Viramontez, 29, tried to overcome the devastating thought that he would never hear her say, “I love you.”

Even the state program in Texas, where they lived before recently relocating to Pennsylvania, was booked for more than a year and insurance was denying additional testing for autism, he said. Mr Viramontez said his wife found out about Ms Rachel on TikTok.

Within a month of watching Ms. Rachael’s videos, Arnia’s parents noticed a change. When she was hungry, instead of yowling, she would rub her stomach and use words, “giggle with her communication,” as she put it. She has also said the three words Mr. Viramontez longed to hear.

Whether it’s about teaching nursery rhymes, discussing feelings or helping babies talk, each “songs for toddlers” video starts with a theme. And with each topic comes a lot of research on related topics.

For an upcoming video about the skills teachers look for in children before kindergarten, Ms. Griffin Akerso spent several weeks analyzing needs in different states and reading research papers. She said, she wants to fix it.

Ms. Griffin Acurso and her husband collaborate on creating the script and outlining the scenes, as well as selecting the actors they need. Mr. Acurso edits and writes the music for the videos with the help of an outside editor, who also creates the animations for them. The couple rehearses songs, which may be popular children’s songs sung in Ms. Rachel’s manner, or original compositions by her and her husband, who also plays the puppet Herbie.

The team wants gender, disability and race to be included in each video. One regular cast member, Jules Hoffmann, is non-binary, which led to an outcry among some viewers earlier this year. However the negative feedback pushed Ms. Griffin Akerso to take a short break from social mediaShe says she remains fearless about representing a broad range of points of view.

Brandis Elliott, 33, first heard about Ms Rachel through an online moms’ group. Having just returned to full-time work following maternity leave, Ms. Elliott needed time off from work. So he tried videos and they worked.

Ms Elliott said when her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Adeya listens to Ms Rachael, her attention turns to the screen. If toys are being put away in the video, Adeya will put the toys away. If Ms. Rachel is chanting “The Ants Go Marching,” Adeya will march in her place. and she claps and mimics sticking gum in her hand to the tune of “Icky Sticky Bubble Gum”.

“Ms. Rachel has really been a lifesaver for us,” Ms. Elliott said. “When I put on those videos, I found out that Ms. Rachel would not only sing, but she would teach it too.”

Ms. Elliott is even more amazed at how much profit she gets from the videos. She learns sign language and pays attention to tone of voice. Like Ms. Rachel she asks her child if he is hungry, and gets an answer.

“Ms. Rachel is our Mister Rogers,” Ms. Elliott said. “She is truly changing the way kids learn today.”

For her part, Ms. Griffin Acurso often lies awake at night thinking about what she can do to help children who don’t have access to an education.

She wants to continue speaking and singing for young children.

She said, “I never get tired of singing ‘Icky Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum,’ so I must sing it.”

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