After taking a week off for Family Day, I was glad to have a great class eager to jump right into the music. We had mostly new kids this week, though you wouldn’t know it by the way everyone – moms and kids – sang along as soon as they got the hang of it! We started with a trio of hand warm-ups: One Little Finger, Open and Shut Them, and Hands Together. The toddlers were great at counting, and the babies seemed to like the attention they got as the moms moved their hands for them. We danced in and out of the circle as we practiced a major scale, singing, “Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello… goodbye!”, which of course left us all with a case of the giggles. We looked at how to play the tambourine properly, and it ended up being one of the more popular instruments during the jam time! We finished with a rousing rendition of James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good), which left the whole class cheering and laughing as I called out on the final chord, “Okay, three, two, one – stop!” but the cheers and jam continued! We all laughed and declared, “One more time! Let me hear it!”
The kids were anxiously waiting at the door, and before our class time they rushed into the room and sat down and stared at me. So I started the class five minutes early and gave them a 50 minute class! We focused on the clave sticks and the clave rhythm today. Many of the kids and caregivers were able to keep the challenging beat in songs and enjoyed experimenting with the different clave sticks. They especially enjoyed using this beat to sing and jump to 5 Little Monkeys.
Once everyone got settled in a circle, with the grown ups and kids sitting together, we sang a few clapping songs and Old MacDonald. At that point the circle started to break up as one girl came over and started strumming my guitar. Normally I try to avoid this situation, but I continued to finger the chords and she sang the words aloud beautifully. I then gave each of the other children a chance to strum for themselves. I brought in Boomwhackers as the instrument of the week, and we all played boisterously together as we sang a few songs. This was also a slight departure from my normal routine as I did not conduct or switch chords, rather we banged out a solid rhythm and just went with it.
We had a good turnout for our first session together. The kids were eager to get involved, singing and repeating after me from the get go, but it was a bit challenging to get them to make a circle. Nearly all of them kept inching forward and touching the guitar. I generally like to go with the flow, so I came in close with them for a few songs. Then I was able to encourage them to sit with their grown-ups for the Wheels on the Bus, but shortly thereafter I could see that we just needed to move. They had a great time jumping and dancing with Shake Our Sillies Out, Workin’ on the Railroad, Sleeping Bunnies, and 5 Little Monkeys. I then showed them the Jaw Harp and let them all have a turn strumming my guitar. We finished off with a jam session and parachute song.
After a very busy first class, I enjoyed having a slightly smaller group this week with 10 lovely kids, including a few new ones who couldn’t make it last week! It’s often a challenge trying to think of how to integrate different ages, abilities, and personalities into one class, but I’m so fortunate these kids are used to being around each other and can navigate that with me.
Being a particularly cold February day, I could tell the kids were having some cabin fever from being stuck inside – aren’t we all! We sang Sleeping Bunnies, which allowed the older kids to jump but allowed the mums with babies to participate by simply bouncing them up and down to get the slow-fast-slow-fast motion. We also played the maraca as the instrument of the week. I challenged the older kids to try a more precise technique with their thumbs and wrists, while the babies simply enjoyed the sound, feel, and taste of the mini maracitas. We sang Shake It, Baby, Shake It, and shook those winter blahs away!
I brought Rainbow Songs animal week to Birkdale this week. The kids loved putting on the animal ears and singing animal themed songs. They especially loved being introduced to Myrtle the Turtle (the hand puppet) and singing the Turtle Song.
This Monday was my very first RSF class, and the first class of 2017 at Robertson House. To say the kids were enthusiastic would be putting it mildly! We had a delightfully energetic and large group of kids, many of whom had some Rainbow Songs Foundation experience and were eager to get back into it. At one point, I instructed the kids to roll their fists in front of them to get ready for the next song, and before I had even finished explaining it, one boy’s eyes lit up and he proudly started singing, “Roly poly, roly poly, up, up, up!”
We sang a medley of two train songs, Down By the Station and I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and by the end of it we had a proper train going with seven kids with their arms on each other’s shoulders! Most of the kids were in the age 3-6 range, but they were really good at helping the younger ones participate, and were very generous when it came to sharing an instrument or passing something around the circle. I think it’ll be a wonderful session!
It was another packed day at Birkdale with 17 children, 7 moms, and 2 staff members attending the class. The children were full of enthusiasm today. I brought the caxixi (like a shaker or maraca) for the instrument of the week, and they all had fun taking turns with it. Some of the moms were even able to get the correct rhythm and technique and seemed to enjoy trying it.