KiD'n TOGETHER: Making Music and Building Community

KiD'n TOGETHER: Making Music and Building Community


Alex & Ben, The Meisel Brothers

Making Music and Building Community that is Special-Needs-Connected

The music of KiD’n TOGETHER started through our family’s love of Alex’s son Matthew who was born with Down Syndrome and later also diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.  When Matthew was 10 months old we knew that language development was a challenge.   Fortunately, we could see that he loved and responded happily to music.  His joy and growth inspired KiD’n TOGETHER. 

At the time, I worked as a sound engineer and majored in Music/Science/Technology at Stanford University, and our family collaborated to create music for Matthew to help support his learning and speech and language development.  Our entire family united.   Alex thrust himself into song writing. Our dad (Matthew’s grand father), Harris, painted the album art of KiD’n TOGETHERland. My sister (Matthew’s aunt), Melody, and our mom (Matthew’s Grandmother), Fredda, added vocals, while I arranged orchestration and harmonies and set-up the recording logisitics. 

Matthew’s birth drove me to learn more about children with Special Needs. I sought out experiences like teaching children with autism how to swim, and becoming a counselor for children with serious illnesses at Paul Newman’s Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.  Based on experiences like these, I became a pediatrician, with my guitar, KiD’n TOGETHER songs, and  personal lessons learned through connection with families of kids with special needs as integral parts of my work. 

As parents and caregivers, we endure challenges and sometimes battles to get our children important services and resources.  Respite and fun are vital to sanity and singing and moving to music can be healing.  We set out to create music that was acoustic (played by a community), folksy, funny, and with lyrics to foster early education development, and communication skills.  We also wanted music that we, as adults, would enjoy.  Many children listen to favorite songs over and over. Alex’s boy, Matthew, would listen over and over and over, and so we set out to create music that could stand repetitive listening without inciting adult insanity.  It worked for Matthew.  It worked for us, and it worked for many families with and without kids with special needs. The music won not only the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, but also their Special Needs Adaptable Product Award.

Music soothes, communicates, and connects us like few other media.  Singing is intimate, active, emotional and community building.  Through song, we can store words and details in memory by accessing brain functions outside of the usual language centers; areas that process emotion, physical movement, and pleasure.  This is why people with brain injuries or dementia or medical conditions that affect the brain’s cognitive (language) centers are often able to remember words learned as song or through dance. 

There are people all over the world using Music to enhance the lives of children with and without Special Needs.  One fine example is that of a remarkable young woman and astounding singer who grew up listening to KiD’n TOGETHER and has been recognized for music program excellence by the Girl Scouts. Lynnzee Fraye (click her name to learn more) used KiD’n TOGETHER music as the basis for her Gold Project Award winning music therapy program she put together for children with special needs in her community.  Examples like this are inspiring, and we welcome musicians, teachers, & music therapists to share their most stimulating and effective music activities in or out of the classroom at our website / BLOG.

My grand dream is for our music and KiD’n TOGETHER as a web destination to be a place where people who care about children with special needs can congregate and empower each other, and exchange information about how our health as human beings can be enhanced by music and other creative media.

Toward that dream, KiD’n TOGETHER entered the digital age this year with a blog, facebook page, and a Twitter presence.  Songs are now available for digital download, and listeners and fans can now share their impressions and stories. 

With that said, I’ll end with a personally inspiring, KiD’n TOGETHER memory:  When Alex and I first started singing for others we had a weekly concert at a preschool where there was a child ~5 years old who had uttered only one or two words in his life up to that point.  He loved the KiD’n TOGETHER songs.  It was with this preschool group that we recorded “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Eensy, Weensy Spider” for our first album Alex, Ben, & Co. -- KiD’n Together.  During the recording of these 2 songs the boy with speech delay began singing the words from both songs throughout.  His parents, the teachers, and we were all in tears at the end of the day because this was the first triumphant use of words this boy had ever used.  On the recording, he is the boy clapping with the strong “Yay!!!” at the end of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.  It still amazes me, chokes me up, and brings me great joy thinking about that day. 

We welcome all to sing with children and become part of our KiD’n TOGETHER community.

Shine On!

Dr. Ben

Ben Meisel, MD FAAP





Photos by the Meisel Brothers, Music for Little Ones, and miss pupik

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Written by: Dr. Ben Meisel See other articles by Dr. Ben Meisel
About the Author:

Ben Meisel, M.D. is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics whose career spans medicine, music, entertainment, and technology.  Ben is Co-founder, Chief Creative Officer, & VP Medical Director of MEDertainment company, MedAdvo Inc. whose purpose is “Building Play Into Health” through technology and entertainment across all age demographics.  As Chief Medical Advisor and former Medical Director of The Painted Turtle (California’s year round medical camp created by actors Paul Newman and Page Adler serving, free of charge, children with serious medical conditions & their families -- The Painted Turtle is one of the preeminent Hole In The Wall Camps) Dr. Meisel has worked extensively with 15 partner children’s hospitals in California to provide medical camp experiences for children with chronic and serious medical conditions.  Current pediatric clinical work includes Kaiser Permanente of Southern California and Valencia Pediatric Associates in Valencia, California.  Dr. Meisel completed his Pediatric Residency at UCSF and is a volunteer clinical medical faculty member of the UCLA department of Pediatrics.   He began his clinical career as a pediatrician in the Santa Barbara Public Health Department providing primary and specialty care to children from low income families in Santa Barbara County.  Dr. Meisel is recipient of the prestigious Dr. Morris Ginsburg Prize from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine awarded to the graduating student who “in the opinion of the faculty, best demonstrates the qualities of the ideal physician.”  In addition to his medical career, Dr. Meisel, is an award winning children’s music composer and recording artist as KiD’n Together and graduated from Stanford University with an undergraduate degree in Music, Science, and Technology.  Dr. Meisel’s work in sound and technology includes work at such varied institutions as Lucas Entertainment’s Skywalker Sound and Stanford University’s Center for Research in Music and Acoustics.  Dr. Meisel is married with two spirited daughters.  His wife is an internal medicine physician at the Motion Picture and Television Fund clinics in Los Angeles, California.   

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