I traveled to West Caldwell, NJ (I like the road sign for ‘The Caldwells’) to Lincoln School for another ‘break up the testing’ assembly – it seems to be my niche – for k – 5th grade. Again, one can always gauge the kids by the principal, and, particularly, if male, his tie. A splendid floral pattern on this one, so I knew was was in good hands.
The vibernia was in bloom outisde the entrance – a scent that is heavenly, and one I miss having in our new yard. A nice end to a road week in NJ.
I came back to the Jay Street Preschool for my second visit, and I found that they had ‘vibes’/ xylophone-type instruments. so, I was able to use my egg shake – rhythm workshop, and now my melody workshop in class. First time together and it messed wonderfully. I made some big progress in integrating some intentionality into my spontaneous work. If only mentor Michele were there to see it come alive. The day before was rocky.
The good news is, that the Sara Ward folks are going to find these African melody instruments for all the sites.
Its all about getting the teachers confident in exploring words, melodies and rhythm as a natural class activity.
Back in Newark on Monday.
I had another four set day at the Lock Street preschool, and it was a little tough, in that my mentor, Michele was on hand, and I’m not sure she wmiled a whole lot. The kids were excited and glad to see me for my second visit, and it was fun to see what ‘stuck’ from the first visit. That part was fun. Back to the Jay Street site tomorrow.
This was the tough session for me, working with just the teachers from the three pre-schools I’m working with – Creative Beginnings and Young Audiences. Michele Russo, my mentor, helped out. We discussed what I ‘m trying to do in my class work with the kids, and then help them focus on using “musicality” in their work. It dawned on me that ‘musicality’ is an interesting way to approach some teacher’s fear of singing.
We worked on the rhythms of speech, (we dissected the rhythm of ‘what was the first thing you thought on Monday morning’), played shakers to that ‘beat’ of the words. We talked about what phrases they already use in the class room, and see if they can make them musical moments. Some good stuff came out of that. I tried to present adding musical notes to these phrases, but found out that the ‘tool’ I would use (xylaphone -type instrument) was not found in any of the rooms. So, I presented the concept of picking the numbers of the notes, and created simple melodies. I gotta work on that – something I learned in CT Hot Schools training. We also talked about taking familiar books in their room, and finding musical moments in them.
The teachers now have homework for a couple of weeks. They have to design an exercise with what we’ve shared, and then, Michele and I will go back and mentor them on what they’ve worked on.
These next visits this week are back with the kids, round two, and see if I can stretch my intentionality, and slow down. (That’s my homework.)
The lads and I headed out, crack o’ dawn, I from CT and dem from PA, to a special education facility, autism, specifically. We’ve played quite a few places like this, and its one of the special, hidden gigs that we do. The kids get to get up and boogie (though we had some teachers working as ‘bouncers’ (they saved my acoustic guitar)). Smiles on the kids, smiles on the staff.
We tried to cut back (me) on the talking and stretch the playing, and the band had to think on it’s feet, so to speak. It was a good exercise for us, since we have a very smooth and comfortable show for most audieces. (That’s why we can drive for three hours, set up and play… then drive back three hours.)
I was struck by the appreciation by staff and the joy in the faces and bodies of the kids. The band knows it, too. It’s a good job.
I had two back-to-back gigs in Madison, CT – my old hometown – today. I visited my Alzheimer’s (and other seniors) group at Strong House for my monthly gig. They started out pretty quiet, but soon were up and dancing. One lady hoofed pretty nice, and came up afterwards and said she hadn’t danced like that in a while. Nice.
I headed out to the Farmers Market in Madison for the first of the season. Misty rain, but I was under cover. There had been some press, so some moms and kids stopped over and the time flew by, with singing, shaking and carrying on. Made some new friends and spread the word about the East Wharf Concerts coming up.
I can away with $23 tips, fresh greens, a couple tastes of some fine cheese, two rolls of bread, and a small pie from the vendors. That’s what I’m talking about!