Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo musician Jack Hartmann teaches through tunes, twists

LARGO — Perhaps with the alligator puppet chomping on the microphone and zany dances being performed on stage, the students didn't realize they were getting serious learning done.

Jack Hartmann, 60, had 100 students dancing in the aisles last week in Belcher Elementary School's auditorium.

The prekindergarteners and kindergarteners followed him through the Hip Hop Tooty Ta dance. "Thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart.'' They swayed and chomped during the Alligator Chomp.

And they got their "brain jumping'' during Exercise as We Rhyme.

Little did they know they also were gaining skills like recognizing rhyming patterns and vowel sounds, along with working on brain and body connections.

"I love to sing and connect with kids, and I try to do that by keeping my songs, the beats, hip, not too babyish,'' Hartmann said.

This is a busy time for Hartmann, a nationally recognized singer and songwriter of children's music. The Largo resident started composing educational songs for children in 1980, and 30 years later his business, located in a business park off Ulmerton Road, is thriving.

On Dec. 1, he learned he is being honored with the University of Florida's Distinguished Alumnus Award. He'll return to Gainesville to receive the recognition during a future commencement ceremony.

And Monday he will release his 30th album, Get on Board the Transition Train.

As with all his work, he got his creative juices flowing for his new release by visiting schools — kids and their teachers.

"This new one came to me after a group of teachers told me they needed help with successful transitions," he said. "That's the in-between times of a school day like when a child is getting in line, cleaning up or using the bathroom.''

Deborah Fike, a kindergarten teacher at Belcher Elementary who has been with Pinellas County Schools for 15 years, has used Hartmann's music throughout her career.

"Sometimes kids just have a hard time getting a concept, and Jack Hartmann's music is another way to teach it,'' she said.

In the beginning, he didn't plan on kids' music being a lifetime gig.

"Actually, I grew up in Long Island, and I first moved to Florida to golf,'' said Hartmann, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Florida and a master's in child psychology from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

"But it didn't take me long to realize there were some excellent golfers in Florida, and so I focused on finding another way to earn money.''

In 1983, he joined the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, where he worked as a counselor, social worker and trainer until 2001, when he decided to concentrate on his music full time.

His talent for kids' music really came to life when he began dating his future wife, Lisa Hartmann, who was teaching kindergarten at North Ward Elementary School in St. Petersburg in 1981.

"The first song I wrote was when she came and said that she was teaching a unit on the life cycle of the butterfly," he said. "She asked if I could write a song about it.''

The experience with Lisa's students led to Hartmann's decision to spend $1,200 on his first album, Let's Be Friends, in 1982.

Other albums soon followed.

"In the early days, my dad would act as a distributor and take my album to child care centers in the area,'' he said.

In 1991, the Hartmanns, who have two adult children — daughter Lauren, 24, and son, Graham, 22 — decided to start their own music company. They opened Hop 2 It Music at Crownpoint Office Center in Largo.

Hartmann, who has written more than 600 children's songs over the years, said the business has grown to the point that he expects to see a profit of $1 million this year. His fan base now includes educators throughout the country.

"This has always been about something more than monetary wealth,'' he said. "Certainly I want to keep getting better at songwriting, but what do I want to do next? I don't know. I've been pretty busy getting to this point.''

For those fans who are curious as to what songs are on his newest CD, Hartmann hinted at one he is extra excited about.

"I really love the title of one of the songs,'' he said. "We always stay positive, and in this CD that deals with rules, we did not want to sound harsh. I think we accomplished what we wanted to do."

And what's the name of the song?

Here's What You Do Do and What You Don't Do When You Go to Use the Bathroom.


Find his CDs

You can order Jack Hartmann's music at or by calling (727) 538 1957.

Largo musician Jack Hartmann teaches through tunes, twists 12/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 11, 2010 1:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning approaches decision time for Mikhail Sergachev

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev had dinner with his host family from juniors Monday.

    The Lightning has to decide, as early as this weekend whether Mikhail Sergachev will stick in the NHL or return to juniors for another season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  2. Tampa man charged in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist on I-4 exit ramp in Tampa


    TAMPA — A 44-year-old Tampa was arrested and charged Wednesday in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist earlier in the day.

    Christopher Jerimiah Cole, 44, of Tampa was driving this silver Mercedes on Wednesday when it struck a bicyclist on the exit ramp from eastbound Interstate 4 to southbound U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Cole kept driving, troopers said. The bicyclist, a 45-year-old Brandon man, died at the scene. His name was not immediately released because troopers were working to notify his family. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Quarterbacks, head coach targeting Vernon Hargreaves; 'I'm not producing,' he says


    Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

    Quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Vernon Hargreaves. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Rick Baker's radio ad said Rick Kriseman missed NAACP event---but he didn't.


    A radio ad narrated by St. Petersburg civil rights activist Sevell Brown and paid for by a political-action committee supporting Rick Baker asserts that Mayor Rick Kriseman "couldn't be bothered to show up" for a recent NAACP event.

    Rick Kriseman didn't skip recent NAACP event, but Rick Baker radio ad claims he did
  5. Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)


    TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    A pedestrian bridge in the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza was demolished in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. [Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times]