I was there on time for this one and I settled in on the stage for the first of my two workshops. The little ones are up for a 40 session so we warmed up with Tutti Tah, as per their wishes. It’s a great leveler for all of us. As we sang The Cat Came Back, I had decided to see if we could write a verse, especially with Halloween coming up. They came up with (still sifting though my sensibilities):

The Cat was sneaking down the alley on a foggy Halloween.
He was strutting his stuff and was looking really mean,
When along came Frankenstein and it started to moan,
The Cat hissed, jumped in the air and took off alone.

The kids have been acting out the verses we’ve written to Down By the Bay, so they had a great time doing this one. One girl had a killer Zombie Frankenstein that had me and Maggie, the teacher, in stitches.

The older kids have a heavier load to haul. They’re working on a specific Holy Infancy song which we figured out a good chorus the week before. We had a chance to refresh it, add some interesting backup improve by a young boy who suggested it – I said, step up and try it. The rest of the crew held down the chorus and he got a chance to try some oooohs, and other comments. His homework is to work on that. Nice chance to shine.

I’ve set out to introduce Justice, Love and Peace, important words in the school’s mission statement. I figure this may be the first time anyone has mentioned these in a school setting. I started out by looking up Sign Language for these words, and it was fun to explore these movements with the kids. (Movement!!!) This will be a good part of the song, regardless of how deep into the meanings we go.

These are deep concepts so I asked them to come up with feeling, synonyms, community connections, etc. We might just come up with statements like, I believe Peace is….. , do the chorus, dance and the sign language and it will still be a good piece. I have a couple more sessions to see where it goes. We are leading each other, as it is with any artistic collaboration.

An interesting topic came up early when the teacher said that the kids thought they might be writing their own songs. I explained that we were working towards one we do together but I tabled the new song and jumped on the opportunity to talk about writing their own.

I asked them to write down on their papers 1. what do they want to write about. 2. where does it happen. 3. what happens during the song. 4. what happens at the end. Doing it privately was a good idea, with no peer pressure involved. I then asked each kid to tell the group those 4 things. There were some very interesting ideas going on as well as a couple of kids who had a tough time thinking in more specific terms. Life, home… less willing to take chances. But, that’s the territory.

At the end, after a hour or so of some intense creative thought, I said, ‘Let’s dance!” We did All Around the Kitchen and they came up with some energetic moves, including some floor stuff like The Worm, etc. It was a good release at the end of a very creative session with some very hip kids in the afterschool program. We’ll see what happens in week 3 next Wednesday.

I actually walked to this gig.