Hi, there. I am Miss Connie and I teach two enrichment classes at Wichita Friends School: Music and Godly Play, and I lead our weekly all-school worship time. I love, in my retirement years, being both energized and exhausted by my young WFS friends. Just being around all that energy! It’s wonderful.
I lead our music class with my guitar. Because guitar is a strummed instrument, it is very rhythmic and interesting both to the eyes and the ears. Feeling, singing and moving with rhythm is a developmental plus for young bodies. Brains and large muscles work in coordination, and the heart gets involved with just feeling good. Singing is one of the early childhood activities that provides “littles” with an easy introduction to “fluidity” – reading and speaking words in smooth phrases and with expression. There are many early childhood “good practices” that we work into the fun of our enrichment class curriculum.
I love seeing the energy children send out to the world when they sing songs they like. Lots of smiles, bodies moving to the rhythm, hands busy expressing lyrics with sign language, hearts that are being touched with emotions reflected in different songs – so much goes on in each child during our music class.
By next April we will have over 60 songs in our repertoire. That is a lot for young children … a lot of words to remember. I am amazed by how easily young children remember song lyrics. Their brains truly are sponges, soaking up so much information. Some of our songs offer new vocabulary words, like “precocious” and “atrocious” in “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”. Our kiddos are definitely precocious with their diction practice as they master those lyrics!
A favorite song of the elementary kiddos is “Follow the Drinking Gourd” – a folk song story about the Underground Railroad. The book “Follow the Drinking Gourd” is in our 2nd grade reading curriculum. Children enjoy the accomplishment of connecting a classroom study subject with the song.
We take a peek into different cultures with some songs. “Abiyoyo” is a song from an African folktale popularized by Pete Seeger. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is a favorite choice for all our classes and is an African lullaby originally written in Zulu, brought to the U.S. in the early 1950’s and a number-one hit in the 60’s. “Mi Cuerpo” and “Feliz Navidad” from Mexico give us some Spanish language practice. Many of our songs just feel good to the heart, like “All God’s Critters” and “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.”
In our weekly song circle, children take turns choosing which song to sing next. “Taking turns” is not an easy behavior for 2 ½ and 3-year-olds. Our music class lets everyone practice patience while others choose songs to sing. The reward for that patience is when it is YOUR TURN to choose, and all your friends have fun singing YOUR song choice.
I enjoy the emotional responses children develop to tunes and lyrics. Children enjoy having their brains tickled by fun, silly songs (“Skinnamarink” and “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”) as well as having their hearts touched with songs about God’s Love.
At WFS we have a special opportunity to know Mr. Aaron and sing songs that he has composed. Mr. Aaron’s “I Will Lift a Thankful Voice” and “Hold It Up” are some of the WFS favorites every year. I wonder at what point our children will realize they learned some of their favorite songs from the nationally recognized teaching artist who composed the songs? That is very special!
Our music class is an exuberant time of shared community every week. In addition to all the fun we have, I know some of the songs we sing will be embedded in the hearts of my Wichita Friends School children for many years – retaining good, shared feelings and fond childhood memories. Parents and grandparents are welcome to visit us for their child’s music class on Monday afternoons and for Worship on Wednesday mornings. I truly love teaching children’s music at WFS and am happy to share this joy with you.