Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sharing Music in the Classroom as a Substitute Teacher


When you work as a substitute teacher, you have to be prepared for just about anything.  Be prepared----a good motto for so many things in Life, right?  Come prepared, then be prepared for any number of scenarios.  Working with a class of young children----right there you have a case for wanting to be as prepared as possible.  You know you can expect the unexpected.

When I'd walk into a classroom to be the substitute teacher for a day, one thing I always liked having with me was a song or two to share.  Singing has a way of mixing up the mood instantly.  It has a soothing effect.  Hearing the teacher start singing has a mesmerizing effect on the students.  It's a novelty that I could count on to get their attention, soften the mood, brighten the day.  And not just singing a song for the song's sake.  Singing their names, singing a transition instruction, singing a greeting or farewell.  Singing can "soothe the savage beast".  There's something about our singing voices that uplifts and calms.

I think of singing as something so utterly natural, something inherent in all of us.  We are fundamentally vibrational beings .  We have rhythm and sound in our bones.  I wish for every child and adult the freedom of singing without any self-doubt or self-consciousness and the pleasure of joining our voices in song together.

While the time and resources for Music Class may be disappearing from our schools, there will always be opportunities to sing in the classrooms, and ways to incorporate songs on any subject or theme.  Viva la Música!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Everything I Learned at a Kindergarten Graduation


It's that time of year when students of all ages are flying off, leaving the nest, heading on to bigger things.  As their Music Teacher, my students at Mistwood Montessori can count on singing some favorite songs at their end-of-year celebration.  Not at the actual graduation, which will take place several days later, but at the big culminating, relaxed, everyone's-invited-with-plenty-of-room-for-all, balloon-filled, potluck, park-setting, party!  Director, Patti, has arranged this event every year through many generations of families and staff.  It's become a beloved tradition of this Pre-K through K school.

Each time I do a special program with young children, I am impressed with how adaptable and go-with-the-flow they can be.  Here we were, gathered in a big circle, about 60 students in a setting most of them had never seen, much less "performed" in.  Their parents, siblings, teachers, extended families and assorted others were gathered behind and all around them to witness---and hopefully join in----the singing and signing of songs we'd been working on.  I had prepared them for what to expect, which makes a difference, but this would be the first and only time we'd actually be there doing it.  They trusted, they followed directions, they took part, they remembered lyrics, melodies, signs (a lot, anyway!), they stood for the whole thing (12 minutes?), there was no fainting or whining (that I noticed), and the Program proceeded and was declared a Success.  I so admire and appreciate these children, and I know in my heart that they are all Shining Stars! 

What I've Learned from Life & from these Graduates, and What I Know for Sure:

1. Singing together is a Good Thing 
2. Singing is fun to Share with Others
3. Preparing is Part of the Fun
4. Trust Things to Go as Planned
5. It's OK if Everything Does Not Go as Planned
6. Go With the Flow
7. Know that You'll Be Fine
8. Expect Good Things to Happen Wherever You Find Yourself

                    Happy Graduation to all the Graduates 

                        and to All of Us Who Love Them!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bunny Song with Game

Especially for this season,  here is a bunny song with a fun twist:

"Little Peter Rabbit" (listen/buy the mp3 on CD Baby)
    (note: the song sample in the link above includes a chorus, which you may use for other activities)

Tune: "Battle Hymn of the Republic"


Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose (3x)
And he flipped it, and he flopped it,
And it flew a-way.

Hand gestures:

Peter Rabbit: hold up the first two fingers only---indicating the rabbit ears--- while gently making hopping movements

fly: extend thumb and pinkie with other fingers down; gyrate to indicate fly motion

nose: touch your nose 

flipped and flopped: gesture with one hand, as if swiping something away from your nose; repeat with other hand

flew away: make fluttering motions with hands held close at your sides near shoulders

The fun twist:

After the children are comfortable with the singing and gestures, tell them that you'll sing the song again, but this time leave out the words Peter Rabbit while still doing the gesture for it.  There's a moment of silence which takes everyone by surprise the first time.  Even 3-4 year-olds will catch on and love the novelty of it.  Older children will catch on faster, and all primary ages enjoy it.  Then build up to omitting the words for fly, nose,  flip, flop, and fly away.  End up by doing the whole song with only the gestures shown, and no sound!

Do you have another song with similar twists?  Let me know, and I'll share it here!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Clearing and Decluttering

The image above is one that represents for me clarity, order, fresh new structure, and creative expression.  During visits to our local river banks, I love to create these "rock people". 

So many of us are committed to letting go of excess in our homes, lives, schedules, etc.  It's a pleasure to share what's working---or not.  Recently I got in on a great workshop by "Order Within" facilitated by @Barbara Browning.  We learned new ways to establish and maintain order in our homes and offices.  (For me, a home office :)

An example of letting go of my excess: several boxes of "outdated" models of my children's music albums, i.e. cassettes.  I truly didn't want these relics of a previous era from my career to be sitting around indefinitely.  I didn't want to keep shifting the boxes, storing them, moving them from one place/home to another.  But I couldn't find the solution.  I mean, these cassettes are outdated, yes, but they're still perfectly use-able.  They're still little music gems that surely must be wanted by someone out there.  Surely!  

All of these albums have been digitally remastered and re-produced in CD format, and these continue to sell well via local retail partners, the internet and various online options.  I'm so grateful for that, knowing that these song collections keep selling and finding new audiences, thanks to word-of-mouth and online sharing.

Back to those cassettes---It occurred to me to let my E-news readers know that I was giving away these cassettes to "good homes". :D  Subject line: "Remember Cassettes?"  What a great response!  Yes, many others not only remember, but DO still use cassettes and many would love to accept them!  They will use them in cars, schools, boom boxes....  Hurray!

I get to experience the happy satisfaction of finding a solution to a former "clutter problem", share in new ways with my music fans, and feel joy knowing that these "treasures" are in circulation and being appreciated anew.  Everybody wins!  

Morale:  It's worth the effort to consider alternatives and to keep seeking solutions on our path to lightening up.  And when we share from the heart, we can connect with others in new, rewarding ways.