I’m back in the afterschool program in Allentown after a three month hiatus. I mistakenly headed to Cleveland School, but found out in time to make it across town for Jefferson School where the kids and teachers were waiting. I had broken a sweat in the rush so I was warmed up. I tuned up and started in with 20 3rd – 5th graders. I wore my red clown nose to introduce myself and break the ice.

I rumbled through I Like Peanut Butter, Tutti Tah and broke the ice nicely. The four teachers in the back were also in the groove as well. Good discussion and interaction along the way for a great introduction for the series of four visits.

I did Cat Came Back and mentioned that we would write a verse or two when one precocious girl asked the one question that has never come up in forty years, “Why did the farmer keep giving the cat away to all these different people?” Good one. I broke it down for discussion and the kids had some great imaginative responses: The cat was a murderer, the cat had venom in his claws, he scratched the furniture, he left ”gifts” in the farmer’s shoes, and more. I was amazed by the ease that the kids responded. We talked about why the cat came back and the best response was, “It was his home.”

Another moment came with Baby Shark. We did the song and it was a riot. But one of the teachers said that that same girl had sung a different version earlier that afternoon. I asked her to sing her version and she did. She was able to tell me which verses I did weren’t in her version and then talk about what made her’s unique. We added hand motions to her song. I look forward to exploring this example of folk music divergence.

I really missed doing these workshops and it feels exhilarating to be back working things out on the fly with live and intelligent students. I look forward to returning here next week.