Today was a curious tour with a 9 am session in West Allentown at Muhlenberg ES and then back downtown at Washington ES for a 10:30 am gig.

I’ve played Muhlenberg many times and the school has had a reputation for an appreciation for the arts, reflecting the relative upper middle class neighborhood. The kids were waiting when I got there (on time!) and I started with I Like Peanut Butter and I was taken aback with the lack of energy in the group, especially the older kids. Not interested…. I spent some time explaining what I do and how I do it, and that the kids should be willing to take a chance.

It was consistently sluggish throughout the get-together and I made a mental note to back off a little. They did come up with a good Bear Hunt verse: an Iron Pigs game, a loud, crowded Iron Pigs game. Crack of the bat, “It’s Outta Here!” and a loud cheering sound. That was the most response I got from them.

We ended with All Around the Kitchen and the kids and teachers came up with some new moves: The Macarena, Do Ce Do, Wiggle Worm and the Hoppy, Hoppy Hoppy. Again, it was a good finish though there were kids who didn’t move.

During the reflection time, I commented that I had to just shut up about the inaction, when one teacher said, “Don’t. The kids have to hear it from someone like you.” That was a surprise! Later on, I thought that it’s a cultural flaw, and one that can be traced to the parents hands-off child rearing, with screens and devices (non-active) being prevalent in the home. Just a thought.

I headed into the inner city of Allentown for a group of kids in Washington ES. What a difference. Though there were some non-active kids, for the most part, these kids were sharp (some even said they liked math). The older kids were engaged and I leaned on the teachers to get involved as well.

The Bear Hunt addition was cool: The Bermuda Triangle, dangerous, mysterious Bermuda Triangle. We made our arms into plane wings, motor sounds and then “poof” and silence. I liked this one. I’ve been doing some discussion before Giants to have them construct an imaginary Giant and the conversation is fun. All Around the Kitchen brought out the regular Floss, Hype but new ones included Running Man, the Mate and the Fresh.

These kids were great and it was a treat to work with them. They pulled me out of a creative funk. My next Allentown sessions are on Monday. Ten down, four to go.