Behind the wheel of her SUV in the carpool lane, Marlowe Bechmann looks every bit the typical suburban mom. But in her other life, she’s a classically training pianist turned music video star whose songs inspire kids to wear sunscreen, eat their veggies and even pick up dirty socks off the floor.
The 40-year-old Southlake mother of two is one half of The Swingset Mamas, an award-winning duo whose DVD Swing, Dance and Sing debuted at a sold-out show at the 24th annual Dallas Kid Film Festival in January and has won raves from a variety of media outlets from Nick Jr. to The Washington Post.
Their 2006 CD “Dance Around the House” won the iParenting Media Award for Outstanding Audio Product and the song “Sunscreen Dance,” which turns the chore of applying lotion into a fun dance, was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in its national Sunwise educational program. Their song “Buckle Up” made the Top 40 list on SIRIUS satellite radio Kids Stuff channel 116.
WHAT SHE DOES:
Bechmann and longtime friend Lizzie Swan formed the group almost a decade ago when they were both pregnant for the first time.
“Lizzie was the lead singer of a rock band, but the three other guys in the band kicked her out – they didn’t think a pregnant singer fit their image,” Bechmann recalls. “Now in concerts when we sing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine” it’s funny to see all the dads in the audience rocking out.”
The Swingset Mamas have been playing local gigs for years around North Texas and Connecticut, where Swan lives, but 2008 could be their breakthrough year. They’re hoping for wider distribution of their new DVD into major chains — a move that could vault them into the realm of kid music superstars such as Laurie Berkner and The Wiggles.
Meanwhile Bechmann continues with her daily mom duties to daughters Lila, 8, and Delia, 6. Her older daughter is autistic and the Swingset Mamas do benefit shows for the Families for Effective Autism Treatment – North Texas.
Bechmann also works to promote an understanding of kids with differences through activities such as National Inclusion Week, and the pair includes all types of children in their videos. She also runs an afterschool program called Dragon Pals at Durham Elementary School in Southlake.
“It encourages interaction between special needs kids and typical kids,” she said. We’ve made a tremendous impact so far. When you can get that understanding to happen at the elementary school level it really makes a difference.”
HOW SHE DOES IT:
Bechmann says her songs are inspired by everyday life and the chores that come with it. The song “Hey Little Lila” was her answer to the age-old problem of a crying baby.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I just started singing and it worked,” she shares. “I realized that using music helped out in other things too. Instead of being a struggle, it makes things fun.”
The song “Dressed” came from the daily struggle to get her kids ready in the morning and “Time to Clean Up” from the grind of picking up dirty laundry and assorted toys.
Her current gig is a far cry from the sales and marketing career she once had, but Bechmann insists that being a Swingset Mama is much more fulfilling.
“It’s a great partnership and friendship,” she asserts. “We’re just trying to take it to the next level. I think we’re getting there.”