I returned to Cacoosing Meadows Park near Sinking Springs, PA for Family Fun Night in a pavilion along the stream. A strong system of thunderstorms rolled through the hour before, but the sky cleared out nicely. Families showed up and we proceeded to have some fun. I broke out the bag of instruments early to gain attention and interest and away we went.


I still have to gauge how to use the shakers because some of my material necessitates using hands and minds as well. I find the kids love the opportunity to play along, but tend to concentrate on the instrument itself, and not on the song. It becomes a balancing act, but I ask nicely for them to put the instruments back in the bag for a song or two and turns out okay.


One young lad was undeterred, though. He was fixated on pounding the tambourine with the small maracas, not healthy for the head of the tambourine (it’s why I don’t bring rhythm sticks; they get ‘weaponized’ quickly). Now, years ago I would have fixated on the kid to try to control his behavior, but after Teaching Artist training, I’ve learned about ‘multiple intelligences’ or different ways that kids learn. Among the ways kids learn is ‘kinesthetic’, and that was my boy in a nutshell, so to speak. The best way he could learn was to physically bang on things and that’s a viable way to learn. It’s not the most common, but a real-world way he reacts to stimuli.


I simply let him go for the instruments while the others sat and participated ‘normally’ and hope that the other kids didn’t take the bait. Hard to do, but it worked tonight. Eventually his mom took off to side on the basketball court and made him run laps, so to speak.


Multiple intelligences is quite a tool for teachers to recognize learning differences and goes a long way to explain ‘negative’ behavior in the classroom. These ideas go a long way in helping teaching artists and teachers in dealing with creative kids. And it’s part of the reason I bring the bag of instruments with me. Not every kid wants to sing along or dance along.


The basic 8 intelligences are:


Musical – rhythmic and harmonic

Visual – spatial

Verbal – linguistic

Logical – math

Bodily – kinesthetic (my lad)

Interpersonal – with others

Intrapersonal – by yourself

Naturalistic – witnessing the world


Later additions include Moral and Existential. There’s a lot going on in this field. And don’t we all know folks (former kids) who were like this?


Again, each gig is a lab and I get results.


PS. A couple came up before the gig and said that Steppin’ Out!, my old band. played at their wedding reception in nearby Shillington, PA. They were there with their son and their grandchildren. That’s cool.