Groove to the Beat

The weather is getting nicer, which means that the number of young women coming out to Jessie’s Centre is growing! This also means that our music classes are getting more lively with our happy group of mommies and babies! We had a wonderful class filled with warm and energetic voices – this group of young women aren’t afraid to sing out loud! And although their babies are a little too young to sing along, they certainly know how to groove to the beat. One little guy started coming to our classes in February. At the time he was very shy and seemed almost overwhelmed by the music and movement. Now, just a couple months later, he’s our weekly entertainment with his constant dancing and dizzying spins! It’s wonderful to work with this growing group of caring and engaged young women. They come as often as they can and seem to truly appreciate our musical time together. They are also extremely thankful to the Rainbow Songs Foundation for the free ‘Hands Together’ CD they received! One couple were particularly thrilled because they “had to get all their kid music by doing searches for free things on iTunes.” Having a CD of music they have sung with their daughter in class will hopefully add to the level of sound coming from their home!

Taking requests at Birkdale

It was great to be back at Birkdale, and to have one of the children ready with a request. So, we started off with the ABC Medley, then went to Sticky Bubblegum, Clap Your Hands, Now Sing 1, 2, 3, Put Your Finger in the Air, I Have 10 Little Fingers, and Listen to the Water. The group enjoyed drumming away for the instrument of the week. We were a small group this week, with nine children and three adults. Three of the children who are in the spring session were also there in the winter. Looking forward to having lots of fun with singers old and new.

Hello SPRING!

It was a gorgeous day at Robertson House on Tuesday and a feeling of spring was certainly in the air. The birds were singing and the sun was shining as I made my way into the residence with Leslie. We dropped off what would be the second Longo’s donation of snacks with the daycare staff and made our way to the room. There were lots of people around and I sensed a great deal of positive energy going into today’s class.

We sang The Hello Song and I got the sense that although the energy was slightly frenzied, the class was again this week going to make great strides in the level of participation. We started with Roly Poly, I Wake Up My Hands, and The Tickle Song to warm up our voices and body parts. Then I taught some sign language to accompany one of my favourites, Mr. Sun. We also reviewed a lap-ride from the previous class, She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain, which has quite a few verses and actions that can be done while singing. We practiced and reviewed some animal actions and signs for Old MacDonald, then stood up and moved around the room like elephants singing along to Elephants Have Wrinkles, which was a new song for some.

After sitting back down we sang Roll The Ball, which is always a fun activity to try, especially when some of the children who struggled with rolling the ball the week before rolled it with ease the second time around.

This week for the Instrument of the Week I chose another instrument from the rhythm section, the tambourine. I find that many people are familiar with this instrument and and so it can be difficult to make it seem new and exciting. However, I was recently inspired by a video of Pete Seeger singing This Old Man. Pete played the tambourine on different body parts, so I took this same idea and instructed the participants to find their thumbs, feet, thighs, hips, and floor (yes, not a body part but still a useful technique). Because we didn’t have enough tambourines for each child, we had to pass the instrument to our neighbour in between each verse which gave us some practice in sharing. Overall it was successful and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and sing along!

We reviewed Hands Up! during the jam and made sure to squeeze in a couple minutes of parachute singing.

I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive energy at Robertson House this week and hope to keep those faces smiling week to week!

When is Spring coming?

Today was the first day of the Spring Session at Robertson House, although the weather seemed to disagree given the snowflakes falling from the sky. I was accompanied by RSF personnel Jo, who provided some excellent support during a busy first class following March Break.

I was able to arrive early and catch up with the staff at Robertson House. As they filled me in on the happenings over March Break one woman exclaimed, “We missed you last week for music!” I laughed and smiled and silently admitted to myself that it always feels good to be missed, because each time it makes me aware that the families are truly enjoying the RSF experience week to week.

We started with the Hello Song and continued to fill the rest of the class with some Rainbow Songs favourites, which included, Roly Poly, I Wake Up My Hands, Hands Together Hands Apart, and, Little Green Frog. I also tried a new lap-ride song with the group named She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain. For movement we went to the moon during Zoom Zoom Zoom and when I felt the need to refocus the group we tried Rolling The Ball. Some of the participants were new, while others were children who had been in class before, and it’s always striking to see how wonderful routine can be. The children who have been with me for some time are much better at participating and listening, while the new faces have some trouble with these concepts at first. I was happiest to see the moms singing loudly and making an effort to interact with their children through singing the songs and trying the actions.

For instrument of the week I did a demonstration of open and closed sounds of the drum. We practiced sharing with our neighbor and passed the instrument around the room giving everyone a chance. I also made sure to reiterate the idea that the drums are played only with the hands and no other body part, especially the maracas! We then brought out the Jam Bag and sang one of my favourites titled I’m In The Mood For Drumming, and continued the song with other verses for shaking, ringing (the bells), and singing. Knowing that the jam is most certainly a highlight for many participants, I kept things going with a new song, Hands Up! I could tell immediately that some of the grownups were familiar with the tune and encouraged them to sing.

We finished with the parachute, first shaking fast to Bamboleo then slowing going up and down. After putting it away on the count of 1 – 2 – 3, we sang the Goodbye Song and I handed out some lyric sheets to the group. I encouraged them to tell their friends and come again next week!

What a way to be welcomed!

It was a good thing they were only brother and sister, because I only have two legs. But with each having a leg to grab, they were able to get their hugs in at the same time. What a way to be welcomed!! That enthusiasm carried through the class, even though we were fewer in number today. Songs sung included Clap Your Hands, Now Sing 1, 2, 3, Sticky Bubblegum, I Have 10 Little Fingers, Dat is the Left Hand, and BINGO. We also choo-chooed around the room to Train is a-Comin‘ and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. We shook things up with the Caxixi as Instrument of the Week. Fortunately, the one mother who is a great tambourine player was there to keep the jam session lively. Hoping to finish off the session next week with lots of people.

Request Week

Today was the last class of the Winter Session at Robertson House, and as always it was bitter sweet in having what could be for some our last music making experience together. However, knowing that the Spring Session will run for a total of 13 weeks following March Break helps ease the transition from one chapter to the next.

I explained to the class that it was request week, which meant that it was time to reflect back and think about what songs were your favourite this session. I saw eyes open wide and mouths drop as I started to go around the room and could tell that this was going to be LOTS of fun. We were able to cover quite a bit of material and it was impressive to hear children requesting songs that we did during the very first class weeks ago. Some of the requests were Roll The Ball, Wheels On The Bus, I’ve Been Working On The Railroad, Little Red Wagon, Johnny Didn’t Have Any Breakfast, I Wake Up My Hands, Hands Together Hands Apart, What Are Your Wearing, Ants Go Marching, Little Green Frog, Sleeping Bunnies, Old MacDonald, and Shake Your Sillies Out. Based on that list alone you can bet that the class definitely ran longer than 40 minutes.

I made the decision to omit the Instrument of the Week portion of the class today, and have an extended jam. We sang through a couple of requests including Three Little Birds, Hot Hot Hot, Down In The Valley and Jamaica Farewell. One of the young boys who has given me some trouble from time to time during class arranged his very own drum kit using the hand drums and tambourines. He then leaned over and whispered in my ear during the jam, saying softly, “I want to take a solo.” So I traded back and forth with him on the guitar allowing him to express his musical ideas rhythmically on his homemade drum kit. It was awesome to hear and see his enthusiasm for the music we were making together.

We finished with the parachute, which was by far the most requested activity, and sang Goodbye.