There was a bit of a mix of enthusiasm to start things off at Birkdale. Some kids ran to sit in the circle as soon as I arrived, but others were a bit more shy. One seemed reluctant to participate, and wouldn’t join us in the circle, so I encouraged his mom to participate even more to set an example for him. The more she sang, the more she clearly enjoyed being in the program. It’s always great to have more people actively singing, as it brings the energy of the room up in general, but it didn’t seem to translate to the shy one. That’s okay though; the music is for everyone, and now his mom will have lots of songs to sing to him until next week. Hopefully soon everyone will be out of their shell.
Ernestine is bringing the energy, week after week! It’s so great to see the enthusiasm for the program amongst kids and grown-ups alike. Not only do the kids remember the songs from previous weeks (and request them!), but they seem to be able to learn lyrics and actions for the new songs in record time. Sometimes the energy can take them around the room and onto the surrounding couches, but today the Cabasa was able to rein them in for Instrument of the Week. One of the kids kept repeating the name, “Cabasaaaaa, Cabaaaaaaasa”, well into the jam. What a fun group!
Things started off a bit patchy today, as some of the parents were in and out of the room for the first little bit of class. Luckily the staff were very engaged and helped keep things focused. However, there were some tears, and some excursions around the room, which had one of the parents talking to her child and telling him to focus on the music. I encouraged the grown-ups to lead by example and engage in the music as much as possible, and sure enough, by the end of the class, we went from tears to smiles and laughter, and the kids wanted even more songs. Hopefully we can start with that kind of energy next week!
I couldn’t have asked for a better reception from the kids and grown-ups for my return to Ernestine. Though it was a whole new batch of kids, they were jumping for joy and so excited to sing before I had even set up! Likewise, the grown-ups were full of enthusiasm, singing along to most songs by the second verse, as if they had known them for years. The kids were great with sharing the instruments, and once we were done, one of them yelled out, “It’s over already??” Only till next week, when I’m sure we’ll have just as much fun!
The RSF homecoming at Birkdale was a bit smaller than average, due to a larger than average case of the sniffles, but there was still fun to be had all around! The staff at Birkdale were committed to getting more folks to come out, and made several announcements around the building. Though we started with only two kids, they were excited to sing and even more excited to clap and dance! People gradually filtered in throughout the class. One parent came with his daughters who were slightly older, but were completely engaged. One of the kids had special needs, and her dad was very helpful with her, while the Birkdale staff were able to attend to the kids whose parents weren’t able to make it. Hopefully we’ll see more parents out next time!
The last class of the session at Birkdale was full of energy and positivity, with lots of spring sunshine coming in through the windows. Though the kids weren’t the most focused during The Hello Song, Roly Poly worked its magic, and from that point on everyone was engaged with the music and actions. We went on a bus ride, a rowboat ride, and a rocket ship ride. We turned into sharks, frogs, and monkeys. But at the end of the day it seems like Put Your Finger in the Air is the fan favourite at Birkdale. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back soon and sing it with everybody again!
Even though the class was surprisingly small today, the kids who did show up had more than enough energy for the whole room. They also played very well with each other, much to the delight of their mothers. During Sleeping Bunnies they both cuddled each other while lying down on the ground, and similarly spun and walked and jumped together during songs like Walk and Stop. However, one of the kids had to leave early, which meant a private class for the one who remained. He was as excited as could be! By that time what remained was the instrument of the week and jam, so I took the opportunity to go through all the instruments in the jam bag with him one by one, though he seemed most interested in the drum. Hopefully next week we’ll have a larger group!
This session at the Plaza ended as happily as it began. I’ve enjoyed seeing the abundant energy and enthusiasm of some of the kids throughout the session, but it was particularly gratifying to see some of the shy kids come further out of their shells than they were at the beginning, now participating without much prompting. Though some of the grown-ups were still a bit shy in singing (which is understandable, given the language barrier), they were nevertheless quite engaged in all of the actions and movements, especially when it came time to dance. We had an extra long jam, and one of the staff members at the Plaza made our ABC song even better by accompanying it with the full ASL alphabet. The kids loved the clappers at the end, and it was definitely a good call to give them all the same instrument at the end of the session. Both staff members said they hope that their program gets extended, and if it does, I would love to return!
Things were off to a bit of an awkward start, as one of the kids was mid-way through a serious crying session when I arrived at Birkdale. However, once her mom arrived, things calmed down, and we were able to focus on songs. It was a bit of a shy class, from both kids and grown-ups, but I found that with enough variety there was something for everybody to latch on to. One kid was very into clapping and body parts songs, and another, who seemed completely disengaged throughout the class, instantly perked up for the instruments and parachute, letting out a smile I hadn’t seen all class. It’s good to know that even if you can’t capture everyone’s attention in the same way for every song, that everyone can find their own joy throughout the class.
I received a warm welcome at Robertson House after coming in from the cold wind. One of the staff members told me that some families had moved away, so it was a bit of a small group, but all of the moms who attended were happy to be able to share some music with their kids. They were a bit shy to begin with, singing extremely quietly, but they still engaged with the kids and helped them with hand signs. I did a lot of body part songs, as those seemed to be the ones that kept the parents engaged with their kids, taking time to cuddle them in between verses. Everybody absolutely loved the parachute, bouncing it to James Brown's I Feel Good. I have a feeling everybody left feeling that way too.