Winter 2010 – Brian at Robertson House

Week 1

A good feeling.  It started before the class began.  While I was warming up my hands and the guitar from the cold by playing a couple of songs, a mother and baby came in.  The mother smiled as the baby danced in her arms.  That feeling also was seen in the faces, and in the participation of about a dozen children, their mothers and the staff through the next forty-five minutes, especially a young toddler who danced in front of me through several songs.  The children ranged in age from a few months to about 10.  Although the programme is designed for pre-schoolers, even the older ones happily participated, especially when they helped to demonstrate how to play the drums.  And that feeling was expressed at the end of the class by the mother who asked if the programme was going to continue every week, and the two mothers who were very thankful, because as one said, “My daughter always cries when I sing.”   I promised her there’d be more songs to learn next week to teach her daughter.

Week 2

It was nice to see many familiar faces from the previous week with about a dozen children, and an even greater number of women and staff present.  The young dancer was back, but this time he wanted to play the guitar.  Once the music got going, he did get back to dancing.  The older children got a kick out of helping to teach how to play the maracas, and really became enthusiastic when it was time to shake the parachute.  The adults weren’t to be outdone.  One woman got into the spirit of “Shake It Baby, Shake It”, by really shaking “what her mama gave her”.  Another gave a tambourine a good workout during the Jam session.  And as last week, appreciation was not only displayed through the high level of participation, but by a mother who stopped to express her thanks as I waited for the bus to go home.

Week 3

There were a few less children (about 10 or 11), but no reduction in the amount of fun.  The good times started before the singing did when my ‘dancer’ immediately got his feet moving upon seeing me going to get the instrument bag.
The class itself included excellent use of the “Tickle Song”, and enthusiastic ringing of the chime bars during “Hurry, Drive That Firetruck”.  But once again, the parachute really got the children going.  Where last week it was enthusiastic shaking, this week they were dancing, rolling on the floor and SCREAMING with delight.
And kids coming regularly means that their mothers are attending regularly as well.  It seems they are enjoying coming out as much as the children.

Week 4

Some familiar faces, some new ones, about 8 children and 6 mothers.  I had a new dancer, so I didn’t miss the other one as much.  And the new one got into the spirit of things just as well as the first one did, practically dancing on my back at one point.  There was a new baby who wasn’t too sure what to make of  me.  By the end of the class, she was really into the music, but still not sure what to make of me.  Not to be outdone, the returnees enthusiastically took part, delighting in songs that they had heard before.  And then there was the mother who got on the bus with me as she went to do her shopping, smiling and thankful from the lift the programme had given her.

Week 5

The ‘thanks’ from the lady last week was bookended by a big ‘hello’ as she was the first person to see me when I entered.  She was really looking forward to the class, but unfortunately, her baby was too restless to let her stay for the entire class.  Had two dancers rocking through the class to go along with lots of silliness which was very appropriate for Animal Week.  A new twist was added by the presence of a couple of new mothers.  The ‘veterans’ took great delight in pointing out the nutty things that were coming up as songs that they recognized were introduced, especially if they knew it was something over the top that I’d be doing.

Week 6

It is so nice to see regulars returning weekly, and taking part in songs that they have heard several times now.  And new faces, of course are always welcome.  With about 8 children and the same number of adults, it was another fun Tuesday afternoon.  The hi-light this week was a child who proved that whatever difficulties one may have, everyone is always good at something.  I wish I could pound on the drums with my hands with the degree of accuracy, timing and enthusiasm that this child displayed.  Outstanding!

Week 7

My drum player from last week was dancing on my back for several songs, and delighted in the Tickle Song with an uplifting laugh perfectly timed with the introductory notes.  A happy, bouncing baby, and smiling grateful parents added to another week of fun at the shelter.  And that fun is illustrated by the regular returnees who respond favourably to songs that are now familiar to them.

Week 8

A smiling member of the custodial staff encouraging  another member to hurry up and finish getting the room ready because “the music man is here”.  That was my greeting this week showing that the importance to the clients is being noted throughout the staff at the shelter.  About 8 mothers and the same number of children spent another afternoon clapping, singing and dancing, and of course, having a good time.  And the Chinese opera gong rang loudly each time someone had an opportunity to play it.

Week 9

What a great time it’s been!!  While not having the full length of session of a regular class or multiple sessions, children and mothers were still able to come up with several suggestions for the ‘all request class’.  And based on their enthusiastic response to material from earlier classes, the time was rounded out with lots of singing, movement and laughter.  While hoping some will have the opportunity to go on to bigger and better things, I look forward to seeing familiar faces at the end of March when the spring session begins.