Our last class at ARISE last night was very special. I could tell the moms and the children were sad to hear that it was coming to an end. I tried out some new tunes last night that the group adored, such as What Are You Wearing?, Shut the Door, and Tingalayo. Furthermore, the instrument of the week, the Ting Shaw Bells, was received with awe and curiosity! In discussion with the co-ordinator after the program, I found out that two new children who attended the class yesterday had only just arrived at the shelter the night before. They were scared and shy when they arrived yesterday, but they opened up and really relaxed during the music class. This was so meaningful to hear!! This shelter has a wonderful community and I really hope to be able to continue here in the future. The co-ordinator spoke very highly of the program, saying it's the best program she's seen to date, and that it made everyone happy and open up! What a gift to be able to be a part of this :)
This week’s class we had a smaller group but it was lively as always. Two of the children who normally attend were absent. The group enjoyed singing and learning the signs for Mister Sun and Listen to the Water, as well as jamming to All the Babies Love Bananas, during which the moms drummed along with enthusiasm! The children also enjoyed Sleeping Bunnies with the parachute, and dancing to Celebrate by Kool and the Gang. When I mentioned that we only have one class left the mothers seemed sad to hear this and said that it’s gone by so fast. It’s become a very well-loved program (on my end as well!)
We finished off our session on the circle carpet where it began, but with new familiar faces and more engaged parents. Even Daniel, one of the shy ones who often refused to participate, joined in clapping a few times, and I even saw some smiles. The best part of the class was seeing the parents engaging with the kids and encouraging them at times when they weren’t being super responsive. Though this group occasionally had challenges in terms of participation, seeing the connection between parents and kids via music is ultimately a goal met. The kids loved their final gifts, too, and were all happily high fiving me in the end.
It was nice to see parents coming out consistently after a few poor attendance weeks. They’re still a bit shy, as are some of the kids, but the very engaged ones help carry us through the songs, and set a good example. I tried to throw in as many vocal encouragements for the grown-ups to participate, and they started to work towards the end, but hopefully in time everybody will be able to be into the swing of things right off the bat. I think next week I’ll switch to the carpet on the other side of the room, as the big couch near the current carpet can be a bit distracting. Though the kids seem to be having a great time on the couch, it would be better if everyone was having a good time in the circle together.
This week’s class started off a little slow as parents were still arriving to the shelter and another parent had a previous commitment. We started about 25 minutes after we were slated to start. However, when the class got going it was full of energy! We got up on our feet to Shake Your Sillies Out and The Hokey Pokey, and one mother in particular was dancing up a storm and encouraging her daughter to join in. Her daughter, who has special needs, spoke out loud in the class for the first time as well. Some other highlights: the chime bars as our Instrument of the Week, sticking our tongues out during The Little Green Frog, and the parachute.
What a finale to our spring session at Ernestine! Spirits were high for Paisleigh’s birthday party, and balloons were everywhere (however, next time, it would be a good idea to keep balloons out of the music room). The kids were extremely high energy, perhaps even more so than normal (maybe some of them got into the birthday cake early). The repertoire was almost entirely animal songs to keep with the birthday party theme, but by Paisleigh’s mom’s request, we still had Zoom Zoom Zoom (this time with the parachute). By the time we finished, everybody was ready for some cake, but the kids weren’t ready for me to go. I look forward to returning next time!
This week's class started with only two mothers and their little babies (and they loved it!), but as the class progressed other families joined in. They loved Wake Up, as well as more familiar songs such as Row Row Row Your Boat and Down by the Station. They also loved the instrument jam and one mother was quite the pro at the tambourine. The parachute was also a huge hit and we had a big parachute dance party to Can't Stop The Feeling, with a couple bigger kids joining in on the fun. One child with special needs particularly loves the class, and it's nice to hear the shelter co-ordinator say that this child totally opens up when she hears music!
The staff at Birkdale really worked hard to get the parents to stick around for our session on Thursday. I really appreciated it, as it made both my job and their jobs much easier, and allowed everyone to focus on the music more. Unfortunately, we had one child who was particularly… scream-y, which overwhelmed things at times, but luckily his mother was there. I imagine things would have been much more difficult without her. It took a bit of time to get the parents to sing, but a few gentle encouragements certainly helped. Though most of the kids aren’t singing along yet, they’re responding quite well to the hand motions. Hopefully they’ll be singing along soon.
Today was a particularly chatty session with the kids. They had lots of questions: “What’s that thing on your guitar?”, “Where do you go after Rainbow Songs?”, “When can we do Sticky Sticky Bubblegum?”, “Where’s your yellow thing?” (my guitar pick). Luckily a lot of those questions came before we started singing, but eventually they started to interrupt songs, so in between songs, I tried to turn the tables as much as possible by asking the big kids lots of questions that would help lead us into the subjects of songs. Though I had to do a lot of thinking on my feet, I’d always prefer the extra engagement rather than none at all! And it’s a joy to see how much curiosity the kids have.
Our first class at ARISE was very well received by everyone! They were singing along instantly and got up several times to dance, moms included. One mom also brought a small keyboard to jam along with me and played along during some songs. Highlights included Ring around the Rosy which was a group request, jamming to Twist and Shout, and the parachute.