Friday, April 3, 2009

Temporary Tykes

My friend Kate teaches a drop in nursery class at a community centre in Hackney. She's been sick so she asked me to fill in. Thanks, Kate! It was a bit different from what I am used to doing; there were a couple of parents there as well as a small class from the nursery school across the street. Also, the class was an hour long instead of half an hour.

Kate told me what she normally does with them last night and I was getting intimidated: I've never incorporated stories into my classes! Shown instruments?! She was saying that they're good with rhythms and there were parents and it was long and it was my first time and OH!! I was nervous by the time I got there this morning.

I decided that the theme for the day was going to be "Springtime" because, hey. It is. So I wrote a list of what songs and activities fit in to that theme that I knew already and decided on an order that would alternate between careening wildly around the room and sitting down and trying to actually sing.

We started with Kalele, the name song with fun time drumming beats. I'm used to kids hiding their faces during this song or somehow otherwise drawing even MORE attention to themselves when their name is being sung. But this group was still being pretty shy since it was the beginning of the class.

Then we did the caterpillar song which involved hand motions and then body motions. (Sitting down and then standing up) We had wiggling, munching, spinning, and flapping. I would have preferred to have the teachers contribute ideas for the actions less and the kids contribute ideas more...but whatcha gonna do?

After the hilarity of spinning around in a circle was over we sang a seed growing song that sounds like a lovely lullaby. I don't have a very good sense of pitch- I can stay on key when I'm singing the song, but it's always a bit of a surprise what key is going to come out when I start. I accidentally started this song WAAAY too high. The teachers and mothers were trying to sing along but it wasn't going to happen. So I stopped halfway through and dropped it a fifth. Looks like I might be a soprano after all....

The chorus of that song has the line "and the rain falls, drip drop" so the next thing we did was a body percussion rainstorm. It's nice because they have to look and pay attention to the conductor/director (me) which is a lovely set up for the next thing we did which was a rainstorm again, but this time with instruments.

With the shakers I have a system where if the leader has their shaker above their head: you play loud. By their knees? play soft. Held tightly pressed against their stomach? Quiet! No sound! So I lead it first for a while and then the best behaved kids lead it. It's a good system.

One of the children was totally cutting up the whole morning, but he did something really interesting during the instrumental section- whenever it was loud he started giggling. Whenever it was soft he stopped. And he would do it absolutely with the leader, even if the leader was one of his classmates. He'd been told off that morning so much that I wanted to draw particular attention to the fact that even if he didn't totally realize it- he was doing *exactly* what I wanted him to. Isn't that neat? I was so proud of him.

We finished up with Simama ka which is the big hit with the three year olds in these parts. Jumping up? Bending down? Whispering and yelling all in a very repetitive atmosphere?! Man oh MAN are they there!

So we ended with that.

No instrumental showings, no stories, and nearly a whole hour (50 minutes, but the nursery class was late. If we'd kept going I would have added in a song about an Easter egg hunt because I was PREPARED. Yes, yes I was.)

I gave my contact info to the woman running the centre and told her that if they ever needed a substitute again or even wanted to add another music class on another day during the week that I would be more than happy to help them out and that I really enjoyed their students. She said she particularly liked how kid centered the class had been.



Andy said...

With the shakers I have a system where if the leader has their shaker above their head: you play loud. By their knees? play soft. Held tightly pressed against their stomach? Quiet! No sound!

This reminds me of Jason's system (a teacher at Old Town School). He conveys the chord with his banjo position. Level is the I chord, pointed down is the IV chord, and pointed up is the V chord. Jason is also a Montessori music teacher.


nortonmiddaugh said...

Yay! I'm proud of you for being so prepared, and I'm absolutely TICKLED that you are having so much fun with the kids!

Now let's see: Your great-great grandmother was a teacher; your grandfather is a professor; your dad is a teacher. Hmm. . . Family business?