A Gregarious Goodbye (for now)

The progress was palpable for the final class of the session at the Plaza. Not only were the kids participating in all of the songs, keeping rhythm and remembering the lyrics, but they were also anticipating and requesting songs throughout the class! The parents were also more engaged this week than they have ever been. I didn’t even need to encourage them to sing! As usual, my guitar remained an object of fascination (and occasional distraction) throughout the class, but hopefully the clappers and recorders that the kids received at the end of class will keep them musically stimulated and encourage their (already incredible) sense of rhythm and melody. I’m definitely going to miss this group, but both parents and shelter workers expressed a desire for Rainbow Songs Foundation to return, so hopefully it won’t be long before we’re singing together again.

Sharing, Helping, and Dancing!

I’m always overjoyed by the enthusiasm of the kids at the Plaza Hotel! Though initially the enthusiasm had the tendency to get chaotic, we’ve settled into a very nice class dynamic. The kids are anticipating which songs are going to come next (it seems like Sticky, Sticky, Bubblegum can’t come quickly enough, as they start asking for it from the beginning of class), and helping newcomers with actions and hand motions. This week had some of the best sharing I’ve seen at the Plaza, with everyone patiently waiting their turn to play with the Ting-Shaw bells, and nobody fighting over instruments in the jam bag (which the kids love bringing out and packing up). There were a number of older siblings this week, which meant we were able to have a nice big parachute jam, and the kids were bouncing with even more energy than normal. It was a delight!

Tingsha Bells

A gregarious goodbye

Our final class at Ernestine was delayed a bit following dinner, but had the usual attendance and the same amount of happy engagement from the kids. We were able to fit in a lot more songs this time around, because it took less time to get everyone sitting in a circle and participating. I took requests, from which the overwhelming consensus on the class favourite was Sleeping Bunnies (in fact, one of the parents requested that we do it a second time, during the parachute). Unfortunately, it’s hard to say goodbye, especially when it seems like the kids are just starting to be comfortable with the songs in a group setting, but hopefully there will be a little more music in their lives in general now (and they can continue to practice their rhythm with their clappers, which made for some fun high fives at the end of class). I’ll definitely miss this group!

New faces

In contrast to last week’s smaller group, the Genoa room was packed on Friday. There were a few brand new faces, which made for a great “hello” song, as it was a good chance for some of the new kids to be introduced to their peers and get some of their jitters out as they were encouraged to participate by some of the more seasoned kids. There were a lot of bouncing and movement songs this week (I rearranged the order of things to accommodate some restless jumpers who didn’t want to sit). By the end of the movement, some kids were even remarking that they wanted to sit down and do a capella songs, which is usually one of the biggest struggles of class. This group loves the instruments in the bag, but jam time can tend to get a bit unruly and there was a little bit of fighting over instruments, which dropped the focus for the latter part of the class. However, when it came time to put things away and sing the goodbye song, everyone was sitting close and attentively, though more than a few kids tried to play my guitar as I was playing. I think next week I’ll come a bit earlier and let them strum the guitar before class so they don’t interrupt during songs.

Old favourites and new requests

This week’s class at Ernestine was a sunny affair. With the time slot moved back to accommodate dinner, everyone was on time and ready to sing. People were singing together more than in previous weeks, parents were engaged, and we didn’t have the usual struggle to get everybody sitting in a circle. The kids are starting to eagerly anticipate certain songs now, and even throw out requests. One spontaneous request was for “hot potato”, which I incorporated into the class when it came time to pass the beanbag around. There was a charming moment when the beanbag was tossed gingerly across the room, then brought back by its recipient to continue making its way around the circle without leaving anybody out. I’m sad that next week is our last, but I’m excited to bring out the clapper instruments for the kids to take with them.

Small but Mighty

This week was a smaller group, as a number of families took the opportunity to go outside after being cooped up inside from the rainfall the previous few days. However, the kids (and one parent) who showed up were engaged and smiling throughout the whole class. Not only did they remember all of the songs from the previous week, but they took to new songs almost instantly. Sticky, Sticky, Bubblegum seems to be the running favourite in the class, along with any songs that involve dancing or movements (Hokey Pokey and I Feel A Lot Like Singing, in particular). Everyone did a great job of sharing the bean bag around the circle, but when it came time to bring out the big instrument bag there was a bit of sibling rivalry over the tambourines. Ultimately, however, everyone left smiling and looking forward to next week.

tambourine

Eager Beavers

This week was less chaotic than last: nobody crawled on my guitar, very few tears, and lots of participation from parents. The group is still having a bit of difficulty sitting in a circle around the carpet, but that’s only because they’re eager to be closer to the guitar, which doesn’t seem to hamper their focus or participation at all. The oldest one in the group knows all the songs at this point, which is great, but she tends to make a point of singing ahead of the rest of the class, so I’ll emphasize the importance of singing as a group more next week. This week started a bit late because of dinner at the shelter again (and people filtered in throughout the class), so next week we’re going to begin at 6:30 instead of 6, which should work better for everyone.

A Little Rowdy

This week was a little more chaotic than last. It took quite some time to get everyone quiet and ready to sing The Hello Song (a mix of criers and distractions from the toys in the room). Once things got started we were on quite a roll, and everyone recognized the songs from last week and were happy to sing them again. Sticky Sticky Bubblegum, in particular, was the big hit of the class, with everyone engaged, including the ones who are normally a bit quieter. The parents were all smiles today, though a bit talkative when the energy got a bit much to handle. I brought out the turtle puppet and wooden frogs from my animal week class earlier in the day, and though the kids were very excited to play with them and pass them around, they sucked most of the energy out of the circle and group effort. Lesson learned: next time I’ll stick to more movement songs for the restless and energetic kids, and minimize the number of objects, as they can become distracting. However, it’s nice to see the kids so engaged with the musical instruments (particularly my guitar), and as soon as we have a better rapport for when to play and when to listen, things will go much more smoothly.

Wooden Frog

After-dinner jitters

Things got off to a bit of a late start on Wednesday, as the beginning of class coincided with the end of dinner (the shelter coordinator said that dinner would start a bit earlier next week). Though we were only expecting 5 at first, by the end of The Hello Song our little room was completely packed! This group was particularly difficult to get focused for certain songs. A few of the kids were quite taken with my guitar, and often abandoned the circle to either run around or try to play with my guitar. There were a few moments where I had to pause the class until everyone was sitting down again, and the parents and shelter coordinators were very helpful in that regard. One highlight of the class was The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which was met with cheers. We had one very eager older sibling in the class, who knew many of the songs. Going forward, I’ll ask her to help lead / get the other kids focused. Hopefully next week there will be a bit more of a break between dinner and music, to give everyone time to digest and calm down a little (but not too much!).

Big Class, Big Energy

Friday was a wonderful start to the session at Birkdale! We have a nice large room in the Plaza Hotel with lots of space to move around, and the kids certainly took advantage of the opportunity. Though it initially took a little while to get everybody settled into the circle, The Hello Song had everybody focused and excited for their turn to spin around, and set the tone for participation throughout the class. The kids were all smiles as we went through songs with goofy actions and funny faces, like Sticky Sticky Bubblegum, and Little Green Frog. When it came time to bring out / put away the instrument bag, there were lots of excited helpers. I’m looking forward to seeing this group’s energy every week, especially as the songs become a bit more familiar.