The Intricate Jazz Soundtrack of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ Was More Complex Than it Seemed

Musician Charles Cornell takes a fond look at the incredible talent of Johnny Costa, a gifted piano player who is best known for his work with Fred Rogers on his classic PBS children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, noting that show’s music was much more complex than it seemed.

Within the show Johnny Costa and Fred Rogers worked together to create some really really incredible things that were based on fairly simple jazz standard harmony, but just executed in a way that was just so good.

Cornell also addressed Rogers’ musical talent and how he never “dumbed down” the music just because his audience was made up of kids.

The moral of the story is just that the music of Mr Rogers was and is absolutely incredible and it was written and executed by two people who were extremely proficient in music and decided that they were going to deliver incredible music to children regardless of age or their ability to understand it but rather simply as an opportunity for a child to hear something they might not hear otherwise.

Here’s early footage of Costa playing on the show.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.