Sesame Street, the award-winning children's program turns 50 this year. As the iconic TV program has aged, it has managed to stay musically apace with its forever-young audience. It's not an easy task, but it's one that the show's creators prioritize for the sake of children's education. While Big Bird, Elmo & co. paid a visit to the Tiny Desk, Sesame Street's Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content Rosemarie Truglio and Musical Director Bill Sherman spoke about making music for the show through the decades.
"The show is driven by what we call a whole-child curriculum, to help kids get ready for school," Truglio explains. This curriculum covers personal health and social emotional development in addition to academic skills. For instance, Truglio suggests, think of the lyrics in the Sesame Street classic "Sing," written for the show in 1971. "[That song] is about the importance of music in your life, and that you make music with your voice," she says. "And it's about confidence. 'Sing a song and be proud of how you're singing; don't worry about how your voice sounds.'"
From 1969 to 2019, the music of Sesame Street has aimed to educate young audiences. Sesame Street's central educational goal has held steady over the years, but its sound has not. What Sherman describes as a vaudeville-esque sound in the earliest seasons of the 1960s and '70s shifted into genres more contemporary to the decades that followed. In recent seasons, guest stars like Nick Jonas and will.i.am have performed Sesame Street originals on the show.