Pint Size Polkas Volume Two
Thanks for bringing us Pint Size Polkas. I grew up listening to polka
music because my dad plays the accordion and loves polkas. He bought
both Pint Size Polkas CDs for my kids who are two and four and they
LOVE them. They haven't listened to any other music since getting Pint
Size Polkas Volume Two for St. Nick. They want the CD on all the time.
Thank you again!! You do awesome work!
- Katrina Buretta
Pint Size Polkas Volume One
My son has an old black-keyed computer keyboard that I gave him to
pretend typing on. He now calls that his "flat-line accordion," and
when I pop your CD in our stereo he marches around the living room
"playing" his "accordion." Thanks for bringing us so much joy!
- Lori Hein
Pint Size Polkas Volume One
I recently purchased Pint Size Polkas Volume One and gave it to a
five-year-old daughter of a co-worker. The co-worker told me that as
soon as her daughter got the CD she went into her room, played it, and
after a while called mom and dad in to watch her polka dancing show.
She had dressed up, put her stuffed animals in rows and then started
dancing to the CD. Looks like with the help of your CD we will have
another young polka fan in the world. Thanks for the great CD - I
can't wait until my only Grandson is old enough for Grandpa to give
him a copy also!
- Charlie Pufahl
Pint Size Polkas Volume One
I just wanted you to know we found an unexpected flaw with the CD! We
gave one to our son's daycare for Christmas because they have dance
time when it's too cold to go outside. Yesterday was the first time
the director used Pint Size Polkas for dance time and the kids
went nuts! She said they were dancing and jumping around so much that
the CD player kept skipping. She's never had that problem before!
She's going to copy the CD onto a tape so the kids will be able to
dance their hearts out without skipping the CD player next time. It
was a huge hit! All the daycare kids heartily approve.
- Sadie Weber
Pint Size Polkas Volume One
I recently saw Uncle Mike and his Polka band on YouTube with the song
Jolly Lumberjack Polka. My five and four year olds liked it so much
and were so excited about the video that I looked for the CD. I have
downloaded it and played it for them. We all LOVE it! The kids are
already singing along to the Alphabet Polka and swaying in their car
seats to Tiny Bubbles. As soon as the radio turns on and they hear the
accordion they shout Uncle Mike! My son is five and absolutely loves
the Flying Machine, otherwise known as the airplane song. He will
spread his arms and fly around the room to it. He has also claimed
this as "his" song! So, if you have young children and you love fun,
upbeat, yet educational music, I highly highly recommend Pint Size
Polkas [Volume One]. I know your children will fall in love with
- Sarah Speakes
Pint Size Polkas Volume One
Schneider and his Pint Size Polka CD is a HIT in my book. This
CD is fun for the whole family and is a MUST for any music collection.
This collection of 15 songs teach, educate and most importantly
entertain youth and their families. It makes learning fun in a style
that has not been attempted to this degree. Uncle Mike and his Polka
Band capture the true spirit of polka music with that great polka
tempo, excellent recording mix and FUN lyrics sung with well-balanced
harmonies. We will feature this CD on our show, The Polka Party
Express 88.5FM WMNF Tampa on December 14, 2008 as our way of
supporting this remarkable effort by Mike Schneider. No matter what
age, 5 or 95, all the Polkateers on my Christmas list will be getting
Pint Size Polkas for Christmas!
- Wackie Jackie Z.
WMNF 88.5 FM Tampa, FL
KFVS-TV CBS 12
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And a one, and a two...
Uncle Mike brought his accordion for “Pint-sized Polka" to the Le
Sueur Library recently.
Shhhh went out out the window at the Le Sueur Public Library on
July 15 when Uncle Mike brought his accordion for “Pint-sized
Maestro Mike mixed music with trivia, books and occupations,
giving his audience an opportunity to learn and dance to that
- Le Sueur News Herald,
by Paul M. Malchow
- Le Sueur, MN
Column: Week kicks off with smiles and just
This column is probably going to sound like a Facebook post or a
lot of Twitter tweets strung together, but it does all fit into
the Optimist Creed, especially the part that says give "every
living creature you meet a smile." I want to tell you about my
July 4 holiday week.
It all started on July 1, when I traveled to the Portage County
Public Library in Stevens Point to watch "Uncle Mike Presents Pint
Size Polkas" by Mike Schneider of Milwaukee. About 80 youngsters
ranging in age from 2 to 8 years watched, listened and took part
while Uncle Mike played polka music for them. I've know about Mike
and his Pint Size Polka programs for a while, but this was the
first chance I had to watch him present his program.
You talk about giving smiles -- Mike smiles all the time. He is
upbeat, happy and a lot of fun. The way Mike was able to reach
these kids through music was amazing. Seeing the kids having so
much fun was the perfect start to my holiday week.
Then the rest of that weekend, including July 4, was spent at home
getting many things crossed off of the to-do list, and I was back
to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. My grandson Henry came to visit
on my days off during the remainder of the week.
Henry is the son of my son, Clay, and his wife, Christine. They
live in Minnesota, so that means Grandpa and Grandma Pufahl
haven't seen him nearly as much as we would want. We took Henry to
the concert on The 400 Block on July 6 and celebrated Henry's
second birthday July 7.
The birthday celebration found everyone smiling a lot. We were
smiling at Henry, waiting for that huge return smile from him. We
were smiling just watching him and all the cute things he did and
said. And I know that all the smiling made for a fantastic holiday
week for me.
- Everest Herald,
by Charlie Pfahl
- Wausau, WI
Kids learn as they dance
BLUE EARTH - They did the "Chicken Dance" and the "Hokey Pokey,"
learned about lumberjacks and railroads, and found out bits of
Minnesota trivia, all mixed to the bouncy polka beat of Mike
Schneider, of Milwaukee, visited the Blue Earth Community Library
and Winnebago's municipal building Tuesday with his "Pint Size
Polka" show, which nearly 50 kids and a number of adults attended.
Flips-flops flew off in Blue Earth and grins stretched wide in
Winnebago as the kids danced energetically. Little ones barely old
enough to walk toddled among the dancers, watching the moves and
even trying some themselves.
On Thursday, Schneider will visit the Fairmont library at 1 p.m.
and the Trimont library at 4 p.m. The program is sponsored by the
Traverse des Sioux Regional Library System and is funded by the
Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. It is free and open to all ages.
Polka music started in the 1800s and moved west with the
immigrants, Schneider said.
"By the 1940s, polka music was almost as popular as Hannah Montana
is now," he said.
He played "Occupations, Jobs and Careers" in which he had one of
the kids wear a hat and the others guess who would wear such a
hat. When the kids guessed railroad conductor, Schneider played
"I've Been Working on the Railroad" and told them the first
commercially successful internal combustion engine locomotive in
the United States was made in Minnesota by General Electric.
That was something that Tyler Scott, 10, said he learned.
"I liked all of it," he added.
The best part for Terry Moore, 9, was singing "EIEIO" which
Schneider turned into a contest between the right and left side of
Schneider picked kids out of the audience to help demonstrate the
dances, like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and, in Blue
Earth, kids got a video lesson about how to dance the polka.
Malarie Scholtes, 11, liked learning the polka. Malorie Huber, 11,
and Julia Hanson, 11, said their favorite part was playing "Name
That Tune." Cassie Peterson, 11, liked the "Chicken Dance."
The girls said they learned things too.
"I didn't know the most popular airport," Hanson said.
"Who invented the first train engine," Huber said.
Scholtes and Peterson said they learned how to polka.
"I want it to be here next year," Scholtes added and the other
girls agreed, but Hanson had a request.
"I want him to play the accordion with a bass guitar and learn the
'Cotton-Eyed Joe,'" she said.
That's the kind of enthusiasm Schneider wants the kids to catch.
"I'd like to build a few lifelong polka fans in the process of
playing these programs," Schneider said.
He picked up the accordion at age 6 and was playing church
festivals 10 years later. He had noticed the reaction of children
to the toe-tapping music, but it wasn't until his wife, Heather,
suggested playing for kids that he considered it.
He promoted the show, got some TV exposure, and a librarian
called. His performances have grown from nine libraries to an
interstate traveling show that includes Minnesota, Indiana and
Missouri. Schneider has even been to Georgia. Although the
children down there have not been exposed to polka music, "they
loved it," he said.
"There are a number of benefits," Schneider said of the show.
Among them: Kids learn about the alphabet, numbers, occupations,
personal hygiene, some regional culture and, of course, polka
"I want them to have education they can take home with them and
develop a lifelong love of polka," he said.
Sentinel, by Jodelle Greiner
- Fairmont, MN
Kids will enjoy tonight’s Concert in the
Park, “The Pint Size Polka Band”
Tonight at Memorial Park Bandshell in St. James , Mike Schneider,
“Uncle Mike” and his “Pint Size Polka Band” will appear in concert
at 7:00pm. This is a concert with the kids in mind. “My vision is
to help children and their families discover the good, clean fun
that you will experience with polka music,” writes Mike Schneider.
“From Pint Size Polkas Volume One , songs like the Alphabet Polka,
the Number Schottische, and Tiny Bubbles in the Tub are sure to
create an environment that’s both educational and entertaining at
the same time, inspiring children to be excited about learning.”
of how he first heard polka music from America’s King of Polka,
Frankie Yankovic, “As a child the music’s bouncy beat drew me in,
leaving an impression that will last a lifetime.” Schneider
believes polka music is the happiest form of music on the face of
The Pint Size Polka Band travels have taken the group to such
places as Cleveland, Ohio for Tony Petkovseks’ annual Thanksgiving
Weekend Polka Party, to the Caribbean for a Polka Cruize,
Octoberfest in New Ulm, Minnesota, plus Summerfest and Rainbow
Summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Polka Band has
received plenty of recognition, winning the Wisconsin Polka Hall
of Fame’s Horizon Award in 1997. The band has appeared on
television’s ‘s Today’s Daybreak Show and The Food Network for
Food Nation with Bobby Flay.
Ice Cream will be
served following the concert by The Friends of the Library.
Concerts in the Park are made available by a grant provided by the
Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council from the MN Arts and Cultural
Heritage Fund as appropriated by the MN State Legislature with
money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4,
- St. James
Plaindealer, by Wayne Fritzinger
- St. James, MN
Column: Suggestions on how to live the
I've been asked in the past to give people examples of some of the
tenets of the Optimist Creed.
For example, a while ago someone asked if you really had to smile
all the time in order to follow the tenet that says "to wear a
cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature
you meet a smile."
I had to think a bit before I answered, but I said something like,
"Yes. To follow it exactly, you would have to." At least whenever
you are around anyone else, you would have to be smiling.
Then I thought about it some more and decided that in a broad
sense, anyone would be following that tenet if they did things
that made people happy, even if it wasn't giving a direct smile to
someone. And a lot of people are doing just that.
The Green Bay Packers certainly made a lot of people happy by
winning the NFC Championship and the chance to compete in the
Super Bowl. What about others? Are they out there and, what are
they doing to follow that tenet, at least in a broad sense, by
making people happy?
One example I can think of is a man named Mike Schneider of the
Milwaukee area. Schneider is a musician and has his own regular
adult polka band, but he is also known as Uncle Mike of another
band, "Uncle Mike and his Polka Band." Uncle Mike's band plays
polkas for kids in libraries and schools mainly in southern
Wisconsin. They have two kids' polka CDs available called "Pint
Schneider says his mission is to provide an entertaining and
educational musical experience for children and their families.
Children of all ages can learn about the alphabet, numbers,
careers, the benefits of drinking milk, personal hygiene and even
a fancy new dance step or two. And by just reading the titles of
many of the songs you know they are educational. Songs like
"Scrub, Scrub Scrub," "Alphabet Polka" and "Please and Thank You."
No matter how young a child is, I'm convinced when they listen to
Uncle Mike's Polka band they become happy and begin to smile. I
gave Volume II to my 18-month-old grandson, Henry, and his dad,
Clay, tells me that when they listen to it Henry is all smiles and
even starts dancing to the music. And why not? With a snappy polka
beat, it is sure to put a smile on anyone's face, young or old. So
even without being there in person I'd say Uncle Mike is certainly
following the Optimist Creed tenet.
- Everest Herald, by
- Wausau, WI
Just for Kids: Musician finds success
introducing polka music to a whole new generation
Ever since he heard his father play the accordion and later began
tapping his toes to the tunes of Frankie Yankovic and other polka
legends, Mike Schneider dreamed of becoming a polka musician.
Little did he know at the time, however, what trajectory that
dream would ultimately take.
Several decades later Schneider has found the audience for the
music he’s always sought to play, albeit in generations far
younger than he ever imagined.
Two years ago Schneider released his first CD, titled “Pint Size
Polkas,” and recently followed up that debut with the aptly-named,
“Pint Size Polkas Two: Dance!”
Catering the polka music he loves to the younger generation is
something he had never considered, Schneider said, and credits his
wife, Heather, for getting the ball rolling. She suggested the
idea after reading about a popular children’s performer known as
“Mr. Stinky Feet” and later watching the children’s show “The
Wiggles” with their child and seeing how popular the music-centric
“All of a sudden the wheels started turning in her head, she gave
me a call and said, ‘You know, you probably think I’m crazy, but
you should do a children’s polka CD,’” he said. “She had the name
and everything in that same phone call.”
Schneider freely admits that he was remiss in having not seen the
connection children have with polka music for himself until his
wife mentioned it.
“I’ve been playing festivals now for more than 15 years for the
seniors and the adult population and (had) always seen little
kid’s reactions – they always jumped around to the music and loved
it,” he said. “But I just never put the two together that I should
do a children’s CD.”
After gathering a collection on existing polkas and reworking the
lyrics – as well as creating original scores – Schneider released
“Pint Size Polkas Volume One” two years ago.
Promoting the first CD heavily, Schneider made the rounds to just
about every library in western Racine County last year as part of
the Story Wagon program and elsewhere around the Midwest,
performing the tunes it contained for the libraries children’s
“Burlington was one of the first libraries I ever played,”
His own love of polka music washed over him at a young age.
Schneider explained that his father, Paul, was an avid accordion
player and that polka music was a staple in the family’s home.
“Probably when I was 2 or 3, he’d pull the accordion out of the
closet and he’d play a little bit, which kind of planted the
seed,” he said. “When my parents took me to hear Frankie Yankovic
when I was about five, that’s what really kind of ignited the
After seeing and hearing the joyful noise that could be produced
by a squeezebox, Schneider was prompted to ask his parents for one
of his own.
“I convinced them within a couple of months to get me an
accordion,” he said.
A graphic designer by trade, Schneider continued to play polka
music in his spare time but began to question whether that dream
of becoming a published polka musician would ever become a
The reception of his children’s polka music – witnessed both
through positive sales of his CDs as well as seeing the response
children have to the songs when he plays them live – have
ultimately erased any doubt about where his musical career was
“That’s probably the biggest surprise,” he said of his newfound
career. “My goal has always been to perform music for a living,
but I didn’t realize how quickly it could happen.”
The novelty of a musician catering polka music to a younger
generation has generated quite a bit of attention for Schneider,
as he’s been featured on Chicago television stations several
“It’s a micro-niche market,” he said, explaining the popularity of
his music. “It’s something that’d never been done before and I
think that’s what’s made it really attractive to a lot of the
media places and also to the places I perform, because it’s such a
He has also performed both at the Wisconsin State Fair and
While the popularity of the polka is well-documented in the
Midwest, Schneider recently booked a 32-event tour that will take
him down south to various libraries throughout Georgia next year.
Besides the importance of having a toe-tapping beat, Schneider
carefully selects and crafts songs so that there’s some
educational value or an important message in each.
“On the new CD, I have brand new, original songs about personal
hygiene, manners and all kinds of good concepts that kids can get
good things out of,” he said. “Either I’m teaching them about
occupations, the alphabet or numbers because I really do feel it’s
important to provide a good amount of education with
It’s through listening to the music that the children are then
able to learn those specific lessons through a sort of osmosis
process, which, Schneider said, oftentimes is the best and easiest
way to learn.
“They’re enjoying what they’re listening to and they don’t even
realize that they’re getting educated,” he said. “When you don’t
know your learning, that’s when you’re learning your best.”
While incorporating some of his own creations on the CDs,
Schneider has also included some classic polka tunes.
“The Alphabet Polka is a perfect fit for a kids CD, but for some
reason it was written with adults in mind,” he said. “That thing’s
been around for 50 years and it just made a perfect fit.”
In some cases, using the tried-and-true polka tunes requires
Schneider to tweak the lyrics to make them adaptable to the
“Some of them are really not much of a tweak at all and with
others, I rewrote the lyrics completely,” he said.
In addition to providing clarity as to just how he was supposed to
apply his talent for playing polka music, the “Pint Size Polkas”
CDs have also provided Schneider with the hope that the style of
music will continue to be carried on by future generations.
“It’s been around since the mid-1800s and has gone through
different styles and adaptations, so it’s a timeless thing,” he
said. “If I’m inspiring a kid to enjoy polka music the way I did
when I was 5 years old and am planting those same seeds, you just
never know where it’s going to go.”
The positive feedback he’s gotten from parents and children who
have heard the music or purchased one of his CDs, Schneider said,
has encouraged him to continue making music that will likely
appear on future “Pint Size Polkas” CDs.
“I get feedback that really makes me think I’m moving in the right
direction here,” he said. “The response from principals,
librarians and event coordinators has been a fantastic thing.”
Among the ideas Schneider has tinkered with is creating a
Christmas CD for next year full of child-geared polkas.
In the meantime, his bookings and appearances slated for 2011 have
resulted in the music becoming a full-time profession for
While optimistic that there would be a market for his music upon
releasing his first CD, Schneider admits that he never fathomed it
would take off in the fashion it has.
“I had tremendously high hopes for it, but of course you just
never know,” he said. “I really had no idea and it (the
reaction’s) been great.”
As for what it is about polka music that captures the energy and
attention of children, Schneider said it’s the joyful nature of
the music that they can relate to.
“It’s just such happy music,” he said. “You can hardly go to a
polka event and not have a smile on your face.”
Schneider’s music can be purchased either by logging onto his
www.pintsizepolkas.com or can be
downloaded digitally through iTunes.
In addition to making appearances at libraries and other
gatherings, Schneider has also performed at children’s birthday
parties. Those seeking to book him for such an event are
encouraged to contact him via his website.
- Franklin/Hales Corners Citizen, interviewed by Mark Dudzik
- Franklin and Hales Corners, WI
This article also
12.09.10 - Muskego, WI
Burlington Standard Press
12.09.10 - Burlington, WI
Union Grove, WI
Pint Size Polkas help Make-A-Wish
Through Christmas, Uncle Mike and his Polka Band will donate $2
from every Pint Size Polkas Volume One CD sale made to Wisconsin
Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. Customers will be able to
download a free MP3 copy of the "Jingle Bells Polka" featuring
Uncle Mike and his Polka Band with their purchase.
Pint Size Polkas CDs and live performances are designed to
entertain children while providing education on concepts like the
alphabet, numbers, occupations, relationships, personal hygiene
and foreign language -- all through the happy sounds of polka
music. Uncle Mike and his Polka Band, from Milwaukee, have been
invited to appear on newscasts and talk shows on 17 major network
television affiliates in seven states.
The Wisconsin chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in
1984, and more than 3,600 families statewide can attest to the
power of a wish. The chapter's field office, located in Appleton,
opened in 1996 to better serve children and their families in
northeastern Wisconsin. Last year, the chapter granted a
record-breaking 289 wishes.
- Wisconsin Rapids, WI
This article also
- Marshfield News
12.11.09 - Marshfield, WI
- Stevens Point
12.11.09 - Stevens Point, WI
A Different View
On Tuesday, the McMillan Memorial Library provided another evening
of top-notch entertainment, this time, it was polka music for
children. Hosts Uncle Mike and Lumberjack Doug gave a good
performance of this jolly music on their accordion and banjo,
while children (and a few adults!) danced in the aisles. With
their Pint Sized Polka educational inserts shown on a video
screen, they taught the children about accordion manufacture,
polka history, and a little about lumberjacking. As with most of
our Library events, this was totally free, and this week's concert
is eagerly anticipated.
- The Voice, by
- Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Local polka fan,
bringing the music to a new generation
Ryan Krygier is the first to admit that when he goes to polka
concerts around Grand Rapids, most people in the audience are,
well, a little older than he is. At 33, he's usually the youngest
one there - unless you count the musicians' grandkids.
But Krygier, who is active in the local Polish community and also
writes a column for a publication called "Polka Times," is out to
Krygier works with junior kindergarten and kindergarten students
at Sacred Heart of Jesus School, where he is an unpaid staff
member. Recently he organized a special appearance at the school
by Mike Schneider, who is touring the nation promoting his new CD
for kids, "Pint Size Polkas."
Schneider has already recorded several polka CDs with the Mike
Schneider Band, and has won numerous awards in his home state of
Wisconsin. But "Pint Size Polkas" is his first foray into music
And his appearance at Sacred Heart last month was his debut
performance before an audience made up solely of pint-size fans.
Students in the school's junior kindergarten through third grade
attended the show, learning new steps to the chicken dance and
interacting with Schneider and the various props he brought along.
Schneider played all 15 songs from the CD, including "Tiny Bubbles
in the Tub" and a "polkafied" version of "I've Been Working on the
He also brought out a U.S. map to show the kids all the cities
where he'd stopped to promote the CD, taught them the German words
to the polka "Ein Milch," and let them try pushing the buttons on
"I wanted to do something that was fun for the kids, but at the
same time had educational value," he said.
Schneider said he had always noticed while performing that kids
just seem to like polka. "There's something about polka music that
lends itself really well to children, whether it's the message the
lyrics carry or the happy beat itself," he said. But it was his
wife, Heather, who came up with the idea of a polka CD for
children, he said.
The CD was released in November, so he has just started putting
together his show for children, he said. In addition to the music,
the show touches on subjects like the alphabet, numbers,
occupations, personal hygiene, and a foreign language.
But he also hopes to teach kids to embrace their talents and not
be afraid to share them with the world, he said.
Schneider was making stops throughout the Midwest last month to
appear on television and radio news shows. Krygier said he saw in
a newsletter that one of those appearances would be in Grand
Rapids. Although he had never met or spoken with Schneider, he
didn't hesitate to contact him.
"I said 'You're going to be 15 minutes from my school - please
come to my school," Krygier said. "What Mike Schneider has done
with his project is wonderful. He's trying to bring polka music to
the younger generation, which is what I try to do."
When he got up to introduce Schneider to the students, Krygier
told them exactly what was going on in his mind.
"I've brought something before you today that I love, which is
polka music, and the other thing I have my heart into is you
kids," he said. "I've brought together the two things in this
world that mean a lot to me."
Advance, by Sheila McGrath
- Grand Rapids, MI
Uncle Mike and
His Polka Band
Size Polkas Vol. One
Considering the good vibes that polka seems to naturally engender,
it's something of a wonder that the children's market hasn't been
further exploited. Milwaukee bandleader/radio announcer Mike
Schneider goes a long way in remedying that with Pint Size Polkas.
The polka, waltz and schottische material sounds musically
authentic to the Slovenian-American style Schneider proffers
outside of his guise as Uncle Mike, replete with banjo to
accompany Schneider's accordion.
Ditties about drinking milk, recognizing numbers and taking naps
may be especially geared toward junior ears, but some of the
numbers are obvious repertoire favorites for audiences of any age.
Schneider truly does sound like a doting uncle wanting to bring
some ethnic culture and amusement to his nieces and nephews. The
only thing that could improve future volumes would be the addition
of background voices from Uncle Mike's target demographic.
- Shepherd Express, reviewed by Jamie Lee Rake
- Milwaukee, WI
nothing to do'
music, movies and more for when you have to stay indoors
In the liner notes to his band's first children's CD, Milwaukee's
Mike Schneider admits that as a kid he fell in love with polka
music "at first sound." Now he's hoping to introduce a new
generation of young people to the genre with the 29-minute first
volume of Pint Size Polkas.
These songs (a combination of originals and Frankie Yankovic
tunes) should put a bounce in your offspring. After all, many of
them are built around already-familiar lyrics. There's the
"Alphabet Polka" and an accordion-fueled version of "I've Been
Working on the Railroad," plus "Numbers Schottische" and "Tiny
Bubbles in the Tub" (which borrows from the song Don Ho made
famous, while also reinforcing the importance of good hygiene).
One listen to Pint Size Polkas can make for wholesome family fun.
Repeat spins, however, may convince non-polka-minded parents that
it really is okay to let their toddlers dance around the living
room by themselves. (Mike Schneider will perform at the Essen Haus
on Feb. 21 and 27.)
- Isthmus newspaper, reviewed by Michael Popke
- Green Bay, WI
Polka musician tunes kids into 'happy music'
Mike Schneider still gets goose pimples when he thinks about
falling hopelessly in love with the accordion and the joyous
sounds of polka music at the tender age of 5.
The occasion was a church picnic where America’s reigning polka
king, Frankie Yankovic, was holding court with his Baldoni
“The idea was I was going to go on the rides and my parents were
going to listen to Frankie Yankovic, but I got into the music tent
and heard the first note and I was hooked,” said Schneider, a
29-year-old Milwaukee area native. “That’s actually the day I knew
I was going to play the accordion.”
Largely self-taught, Schneider has been performing Yankovic’s
Slovenian-style polka music in public since middle school, and has
gone on to be considered one of the great hopes in keeping polka
alive. While he’s certainly up to the task, Schneider recently
realized there was a whole other market for polka music that he
had been overlooking, even though it was part of his own roots.
“I have played church festivals throughout the state for many
years,” he said. “I have always seen parents bring little kids
into the tent. Invariably, the kids will be jumping up and down.
They love the music, but I never made the connection to do a CD in
all those years, even though the answer was standing right before
Adopting the name Uncle Mike, Schneider recently released Pint
Size Polkas: Volume One, a 15-tune CD of what Schneider describes
as “the happiest form of music on the face of the earth.”
“I remember feeling overwhelmingly happy when I heard polka as a
child,” he said, “and that’s become our slogan – Pint Size Polkas:
We’re bringing happy back. That’s what it’s all about and that’s
what it was for me when I was 5. I still get tingles up and down
the spine thinking about it.”
But even though his polka roots go back to childhood, Schneider
said it was his wife, Heather, who came up with the idea of a
polka CD for children
“Well, yeah, duh…it was a great idea,” Schneider said. “About two
years ago while we were still dating, she gave me a call. The idea
came to her to do a children’s polka CD. In the same call she had
the title for the CD and everything. I was very grateful to hear
that from her.”
Assembling a children’s polka CD forced Schneider to think about
his own early love for the music.
“The project really did make me think about my own polka roots,”
he said. “In fact, one of the songs on the CD is ‘The Happy
Wanderer.’ That’s one of the first songs I remember hearing
Frankie Yankovic playing live. So remembering the feeling I had
when I was a kid, I want to give it back, either giving the kids a
lifelong love of polka music or just giving them a lot of fun and
The songs on Pint Size Polka range from polka favorites (Yankovic’s
“Whoop Polka”) to reworkings of children’s classics (“I’ve Been
Working on the Railroad”) to Schneider originals (“Parents Polka”)
to kid-friendly rewrites of adult polkas (“Ein Milch”).
“It was amazing to me when I first started this project how kid
friendly polka already was,” Schneider said. “It’s such an
inherently happy music that I think the children’s market is
perfect for it.”
And the response has been amazing, Schneider said.
“I heard from a daycare in South Dakota where they had to record
the CD to tape because every time they played the CD, the kids
would dance so hard the CD would skip,” he said.
Volume II is a couple years down the road, Schneider said, which
begs the question, when you are in a niche market such as polka,
aren’t you worried about becoming even more of a niche artist with
children’s polka music?
“I wouldn’t mind that niche,” he said. “I will continue to do
traditional polka as well, but the stronger a niche you can
create, the better off you’re going to be in the long run in terms
of selling product and making a market happy. I think if I’m
creating that niche for myself, that’s fine with me.”
You can order Pint Size Polkas at Schneider’s website,
- The Scene newspaper,
interview by Jim Lundstrom
- Fox Valley, Central Wisconsin, and Lakeshore editions
Start 'em young:
'Pint size Polkas'
a polka fan looking for a stocking stuffer for the kids, there's
something new that may fill the bill. Milwaukee polka musician
Mike Schneider recently released his first children's polka CD,
"Pint Size Polkas Volume One" ($11.99). The 15 songs include some
that are educational and entertaining, such as "Alphabet Polka,"
"Numbers Schottische" and "Tiny Bubbles in the Tub." Others are
just for fun, including the familiar "I've Been Working on the
Railroad," "The Happy Wanderer" and "Hey Baba Reba." Schneider,
29, says he heard his first polka music at age 5, played by
Frankie Yankovic, "America's Polka King." He credits his wife,
Heather, with coming up with the "Pint Size Polka" concept. A song
sampler is at www.pintsizepolkas.com, where a video of "Jolly
Lumberjack Polka" may be seen as well. Schneider has traveled
throughout the Midwest and eastern Caribbean with his band.
- Green Bay, WI
This article also
- Marshfield News
02.01.09 - Marshfield, WI
- The Sheboygan
02.01.09 - Sheboygan, WI
- Stevens Point
02.01.09 - Stevens Point, WI
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
02.01.09 - Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Review: Pint Size Polkas Volume Two CD
Polka is the official dance of Wisconsin and unofficial music of
this fine state. However, not being a native of Wisconsin, I have
never really understood the dairy state's fascination with it. So,
when a request came in to review a CD called Pint Size Polkas I
had serious reservations. The smart aleck in me tried to ignore
this record. The critic/cynic in me wanted to hate it. Yet, I
don’t. Here’s why:
I picked up my daughter from daycare and put Pint Size Polkas
in my CD player and proceeded to see my daughter dance in her car
seat for the entire 20 minute drive home. That alone has earned
this CD into regular rotation. This may not be my type of music
but it definitely won over my daughter pretty quickly. It was a
friendly reminder that kids music is for her, not me, despite me
enjoying a lot of kids music.
Pint Size Polkas is the brain child of Mike Schneider
(although he credits his wife for giving him the idea) and a
couple of his friends who perform under the name, Uncle Mike and
his Polka Band. Pint Size Polkas: Volume Two is a
collection of original “Alphabetical Order In The Court” and
traditional “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes“ kids music. It's an
album full of energy that clocks in at 30 minutes. The longest
song is barely 3 minutes long.
So consider me won over on the Polka record, I'm a convert. I sure
didn’t expect to be.
- Reviewed by Dan
Walsh of MilwaukeeMoms.com
Review: Pint Size Polkas
Volume One CD
You want happy? You got it! In this uncertain economic climate,
everyone needs to slow down, take a cleansing breath, and crank up
a polka album! And Uncle Mike has just the one for you and your
family: Pint Size Polkas gets the party started and doesn't let up
until the accordions come home.
The Mike Schneider Band have recorded five albums of polka music
for grownups, and Pint Size Polkas is their first CD for kids. The
album includes familiar tunes like "The Happy Wanderer," "The
Chicken Dance," a re-written "Tiny Bubbles in the Tub," and "I've
Been Working on the Railroad," as well as a couple of classics by
Polka King Frankie Yankovic.
But the fun doesn't stop there: check out the can't-be-missed
"Teach Me How to Yodel," the awesome sing-along "Hey Baba Reba,"
and the bottle-hoisting "Ein Milch," which may be the best
drinking song for kids ever recorded. You can also get in some
letter and number practice with "Alphabet Polka" and "Numbers
Schottische," then enjoy the "Jolly Lumberjack Polka," already a
hit on YouTube.
Tons of fun for young and old!
- Reviewed by
Warren Truitt, Senior Children's Librarian
The New York Public Library
Review: Pint Size Polkas
Volume One CD
Last fall I was contacted by a very loyal reader* who said her
husband had produced a music CD for children. She asked if I would
consider reviewing it and giving a couple away to my readers.
What kind of music was it? Polkas for kids.
I know, the only two polkas I even vaguely know are the "roll out
the barrel" song from Zoom (geez, am I showing my age there?) and
hearing The Chicken Dance at many a wedding. But Buddy and
Princess love music-and Yankee Bill's father grew up in Northern
PA and grew up dancing and listening to Polkas all his life**, so
even though I don't do a lot of reviews I decided to give it a
It also didn't hurt that I love to be able to give something away
to you guys.
But then life intervened-and here it is March and I am very
embarrassed to just be getting around to conducting the review.
Pint Sized Polkas retails for $11.98 and contains 15 fun and
educational children's songs. You can head on over to their
website to listen to the songs (just click on "music"). From the
"Children of all ages will learn about the alphabet, numbers,
careers, the benefits of drinking milk, personal hygiene and even
a fancy new dance step or two! Put the fun of polka together with
I wasn't sure how my kids would like polka music.
One of Buddy's (age 5) favorite songs is "Thank God I'm a Country
Boy" by John Denver, which is full of bouncy, happy banjo music.
Since Polka music is happy music-have you ever heard a sad
polka?-I figured there was a pretty good chance that Buddy would
Princess (age 7) on the other hand seems to be desperate to become
a preteen as soon as possible and adores Hannah Montana, Jonas
Brothers and The Cheetah Girls. I was laying even odds that she'd
just turn up her nose.
The first day I had the music on Princess wandered through the
room and commented on the "weird" music. The next day I asked
Buddy to hang out with me and listen to the CD. Princess came in
while it was playing and wound up sticking around just to listen.
Buddy: It's good. Can I keep the CD up in my room?
Princess: I think it's cool. I started thinking it was silly, but
the more I listened to it the more I liked it. It made me laugh-it
was really funny music. I really think that this is pretty cool
music but it is pretty funny, and any moms with kids-the kids will
probably like it.***
They proceeded to listen to the entire CD twice through. They
played the Chicken Dance alone about 4 times.
So yes, I would recommend this CD for someone looking for some
happy, fun music for their kids.
What, you don't have money in the budget to spend on children's
CDs? That's ok, we understand. Lucky for you I have 2 copies of
"Pint Sized Polkas" to give away to readers! If you are interested
in winning a copy, just leave a comment with a way to contact you.
If you have a twitter account you can get a second entry by
tweeting a link to the drawing and then coming back here and
leaving another commnet letting me know about it.
The drawing closes on Sunday at 12 Noon EST, and I will be
randomly drawing 2 names and posting them by 5pm.
If you don't win the contest :( and are interested in buying a
copy of Pint Sized Polkas-buy it through one of the links here on
this post-Uncle Mike will waive the shipping & handling fee.
*Note: Really -
this wasn't just a PR person who read 2 posts and tried to pretend
they knew what was going on.
**Note: The only song that my FIL danced to at our wedding was a
polka. Up till the day he died, every Sunday morning he would
listen to a local radio station's special once a week polka show.
***Note: I did not tell her to say that! She's a born saleswoman
- Reviewed by
Jenn @ Frugal Upstate,
one of Walmart's Elevenmoms