This was our final session of the year together, but that didn't dampen our spirits. We set our sights on learning a few new things today, starting with Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (the favourite song of our youngest member), but this time I taught everyone the sign language that goes with the lyrics. Then we learned Five Little Pumpkins, as Halloween was less than two weeks away. After that, we sang some of our all-time favourites, like Sleeping Bunnies and Baby Shark. I made sure we spent extra time on our jam together, and when things were getting a little raucous, I learned a really valuable tool from the coordinator. Before the instruments were distributed, there was some panicking over who was going to play with what, so she had us all sit for a moment with our hands in our lap, take a deep breath in, let it out, and say, "I am patient". It was incredible! I've been doing this with myself to find moments of calm ever since. I always treasure my time at the Redwood, and this was certainly no exception.
We were a smaller group this week, so I think everyone was feeling a bit more exposed, and therefore shyer than usual. To break the ice, I brought out some of my silliest songs with nonsense words and kookie actions. After that, we settled into learning a bit more about the technical aspects of music, namely Solfege. We learned how to sing the scale as well as the hand signs that go with it. We finished up with the Agogo, a Brazilian instrument that's similar to a cow bell, and one of the parents helped us sing Oye Como Va, complete with a translation.
Although we started our time together with the usual energy I've come to expect at Redwood, dancing and moving our bodies, the real highlight of our session was an extended version of Down By the Bay. All the kids took turns coming up with silly rhymes, and they were being so considerate with one another, raising their hands for their turn to jump into the song. After that, we explored our emotions through If You're Happy and You Know It by adding "if you're sad and you know it" and "if you're mad". All of the expressions were great!
This week we took advantage of the fact that we've got a bit of an adolescent group, so we got a bit technical with our time together. We worked out different types of rhythms, like comparing a "regular" 4/4 beat to a waltzing 3/4, and also with different tempos, like going twice as fast every time I called out "double time!" It was great to see everyone really taking in and embodying their musicality. We also sang en français! We named different body parts and even tied it into our instrument, the tambourine, which translates as "little drum" – as one of the grown-ups rightly picked up on as we talked about it!
It was great to be back at the Redwood this week! It was quite a large group tonight with a big range of ages, from one-year-olds to pre-teens. It was initially challenging to find songs that caught the attention of the whole group, but we found our way with a little help from some drums. They have several djembes at the shelter, so I taught our clave rhythm (or just had them tap out the last two beats) to the older kids, and they played that while younger kids jumped around for Five Little Monkeys. We continued working with rhythm, taking turns with the drums, with everyone else either clapping their hands, slapping their knees, or stomping their feet. This group is going to keep me on my toes, I can tell!
This week marked our final program together for this session, but it didn't dampen the mood at all. I asked everyone what they wanted to sing, and we went through some classics, from Twinkle Twinkle to Sleeping Bunnies, and finished off with everyone's favourite: parachute time! We then spent some time saying good-bye and getting feedback. I've enjoyed my time at Redwood greatly, and want to thank all of the staff, volunteers, and of course, the residents, for welcoming Rainbow Songs Foundation so warmly, and playing along with us for the past few months.
We had a full house on this rainy Thursday, and we let the rain inspire us a bit. I'm trying to get the older kids in our group more involved and to throw out lots of suggestions, so I had them choose what foods our raindrops / snowflakes / sunbeams became in All of the Raindrops, as well as giving fun animals for Listen to the Water – from catfish to giant squid! The big hit this week, though, was Down By the Bay, with everyone coming up with silly rhymes. They were really excited to come up with new combinations, and we almost went over time getting to everyone!
The shift in residents at Redwood has brought a slightly older group of children into our weekly music sessions – between 5 and 11 years old. That means we're singing and dancing our way through more interactive songs, where the kids can give suggestions and use their imaginations, like pretending to be animals or making up silly rhymes. It's definitely a different kind of challenge for me, but they're very game and willing to try!
It was a full house this week with lots of new faces at the Redwood! Despite the change in people, the high energy levels we've come to expect here didn't change at all! We were celebrating Earth Week, so we explored all different manners of moving around that don't require fuel / small vehicles, with lots of suggestions from our young participants. What better way to end that with a dance-filled jam? (Hint: There is no better way!)
This week was a wonderful learning and sharing experience at Redwood. Of course, we had our usual songs and activities, and recently there's been a new family coming to our sessions, one of whom is hearing impaired. Obviously we want to include them as much as possible, so we ended up helping everyone else learn how to do their ABCs in ASL [American Sign Language], as well as the song The More We Sing Together. This led into adding some French songs to our repertoire as well, as other participants are fluent. It was wonderful to have our participants teaching and learning from one another, and it's honestly such a privilege to witness this community in all of its beautiful diversity!