Teach Your Children Well

February 13, 2014

I mentioned in the previous post that I have recently begun working with an early-childhood music program. O.M.G.

If you have been reading my blog for any period of time, chances are you have noticed that I work with adults. The end. I have not, since practicums in school, worked with anyone under the age of 18. So, naturally, when I was contacted by this business, I decided it was a good idea for me to jump in to work with non-adults by working with people who require me to be an entirely different kind of facilitator in a musical setting: Toddlers.

These are typically developing kids, and the music program is more of a world music and art exploration class, which is actually right up my alley (I love world music).  Parents are always present (though some have more than one child in attendance) for the entire 45 minute class, which helps with the wrangling and herding of the masses, and there is a ten minute art portion where an art teacher brings in some very creative things for the kids to paint with (on various surfaces – last week, they were painting on snow!) and they paint to whatever musical theme is explored that day. The classes run from September to June.

The first class (I keep wanting to say “session”) was a disaster. There were five children (all with parents present) and they were EVERYWHERE! The room had several structures, toys and props that were left out, which provided huge distractions, so I was definitely leading the parents in music for most of the time while the toddlers moved about the room so fast, I barely had time to get over to them with my guitar before they were on their way to another area.

The second class was better, as the administrators decided it might be helpful to remove some of the more distracting items from the room beforehand, and I actually had the attention of some of the kids!

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The third and fourth classes were both really nice, even with larger numbers of kids, and I find myself now enjoying not only the sessions, but also the minimal but necessary preparation before sessions – making playlists for the world music listening/art/free movement aspects of the class and learning SHORT songs and movement exercises that go with the premeditated world music and art themes – and getting to know the little ones. I can see, only in a few short weeks, that some are learning from our classes, those little sponges, and becoming more comfortable with me, which I appreciate, because they seem to be actively attending and participating more.  For a take-away, here are the last four mini session/lesson plans:

Waltz theme

Play “Blue Danube” before class while kids explore

  1. Learn names/introductions
  2. Greeting song
  3. “On top of Spaghetti” with Instruments
  4. Put away instruments
  5. “Chim-Chimeny” with pom poms
  6. Put pom poms away
  7. “Daisy Bell” with bells
  8. Put bells away
  9. Free movement with Scarves to “The Christmas Waltz” and “Lara’s Theme”
  10. Put away scarves
  11. Painting with coil whisks to “Waltz of the Flowers”
  12. Put away paints
  13. “The More we Get Together” – movement exercise
  14. Goodbye Song

Hawaiian Theme

Play Hawaiian music playlist* before class while kids explore

  1. Learn names/introductions
  2. Greeting song
  3. “Spread a Little Aloha” with shakers
  4. Put away shakers
  5. “Little Grass Shack” with instruments
  6. Put away instruments
  7. “I’ll Build a Bungalow” with pom poms
  8. Put pom poms away
  9. Free movement with Scarves to playlist*
  10. Put away scarves
  11. Playlist – painting with flower shaped sponges
  12. Put away paints
  13. “Lovely Hula Hands” – movement exercise
  14. Goodbye Song

Hawaiian Music Playlist

Pili Me Ka’u Manu – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Lovely Hula Hands (Instrumental) – Hawaii

Honolulu – Hawaii

Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

 Southern African Theme

Play Southern African music playlist* before class while kids explore

  1. Learn names/introductions
  2. Greeting song
  3. “Hakuna Matata” with instruments
  4. Put away instruments
  5. “Izika Zumba” with shakers
  6. Put away shakers
  7. “Lion Sleeps Tonight” – puppets/animal sounds
  8. Put away puppets
  9. Free movement with scarves to playlist
  10. Put away scarves
  11. Playlist – painting with animal figurines’ feet (animal tracks)
  12. Put away paints
  13. No More Monkeys – movement exercise
  14. Goodbye Song

Southern Africa playlist 

Streetbeat – David Hewitt

Mbube – Mahotella Queens

Langa Mo – Aura Msimang

Kalimba – Dr. Victor

Sangoma – Bakithi Kumalo

Hendry – Tarika Sammy

Hello Hello – Mose Se Sengo

Cold Weather Theme (originally Icelandic, but no appropriate Icelandic music exists that I felt comfortable playing for toddlers)

Play Cold Weather playlist* before class while kids explore

  1. Learn names/introductions
  2. Greeting song
  3. “Frosty the Snowman” with instruments
  4. Put away instruments
  5. “Let it Snow” with pom poms
  6. Put away pom poms
  7. “Snow is Falling” – to the tune of “Frere Jacques” and with hand and body movement
  8. Free movement with scarves to playlist*
  9. Put away scarves
  10. Playlist – painting on fresh snow with brushes (blue and purple paint)
  11. Put away paints
  12. Goodbye Song

Cold Weather Playlist

All Souls Night – Loreena McKennitt

Dedicace Outo – Dead Can Dance

Between the Shadows – Loreena McKennitt

Crow Wing – Nakai/Demars

Tango to Evora – Loreena McKennitt

On the business side of things…I’m not getting paid my regular rate (what I make is based on how many kids are signed up in advance and then how many drop-ins there are, which all varies) and while that’s definitely not my favorite part of this experience, I decided before I even started that I would think of this as a class I am taking, since this is decidedly not my population (toddlers) or area of expertise (teaching). So, when I look at it that way, I am getting experience working (not as an MT) with a group of people that is COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone in almost every way, and I’m getting paid to do it, which is awesome.

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