All entries filed under DF Residency

This was my first session for SouthSide Children’s Festival with a fifth grade class. I’ve tried an earlier version that was really scattered (6 young rambunctious boys), and the teacher warned me that these kids were particularly “chatty”.

We are supposed to do an opening set for the school’s Lion King production at the end of the month so I landed on the idea to write our version of We Gave Names to the Animals with animals from the show. It turned out to be quite a good idea in the moment.

I warmed them up with my usual tools – Peanut Butter, Tutti Tah, etc. and we launched into writing some verses.

I saw an animal in the rain forest canopy,

Juggling bananas, swinging from tree to tree.

He likes to breakdance, moonwalk real funky. 

I think I’ll call this animal a monkey. (not too bad…)


I saw a wild dog loose in the savanna, 

A savage predator with a gangsta bandana.

It likes to hula and do the macarena, 

I think I’ll call this animal an hyena. 

We figured out that we still have Lion, Red Baboon, Meerkat, Warthog, Wildebeest left over so I have the project set up for the next few meetings.

These kids were great to work with, and, though chatty, quite easy to work with from the get-go. A great session.





This was the final visit in a series of five Tuesday afternoons with this group of second and third graders, and it was going to be the grand finale, with parents coming by for the last half hour. There were quite a few kids missing, so we had a skeleton crew. We went over the verses we wrote for The Cat Came Back, We Gave Names to the Animals and The Bear Hunt. We didn’t quite finish up our original song I’m at My Best, but we practiced what we had.

As ten or so parents and other family members came by, I talked a little about what we tried to do with songwriting and then presented our material. It was nice to see my students looking to their families, showing some pride in their work, and having fun with me. And, it was fun for me to play to the folks and to my new friends.

It was rather anticlimactic, but satisfying nonetheless. We connected, though, on this small level, so that’s still okay.

Fountain Hill Afterschool hit its third session, and it was time to get to work on the 7 Habits song. But, I led off with a recall of the kids’ Cat Came Back verse that was still on the music teacher’s board. I decided to see if I could stretch this into a warm up, and it developed nicely.  I introduced my purple electric guitar as an opener and it was, again, a good centering device to start with. We sang the verse through several times, but I felt we gotta move, so I got them up to sing the chorus with movement. I picked one girl to lead the chorus with snaps and steps. She wasn’t quite ready to lead, but I picked an older girl I had some issues with attention spans to take the lead. It was exactly the right person to engage and she jumped at the chance and nailed the session. We worked on singing the chorus at a diagonal in the room, added a “wave” and a finale. Great energy for the task ahead.

Time to write lyrics. I came up with “At My Best” for an entry into the “Best Practices” school curriculum. We had talked last week and developed a list of when I’m feeling at my best. We came up with three verses from last weeks discussion and actually got some good work in. I added a chord progression on guitar (as the battery died) and put something together. Added claps and a couple of other interactive chops. We’re on our way.

I’m at my best when I’m feelin’ great.  //

Like an ice cream cone on a summer date.  //

Like pencil all sharp, ready for art. //

Like a game of soccer on Fountain Hill Park ……………… //


I’m at my best when I’m in my groove,   //

Like a new paint brush, nice and smooth.  //

Like my guitar when it’s in tune,  //

Like basketball dunk,  bam, ka boom……………………..//


I’m at my best when I’m really pleased, //

Like a pizza party, pepperoni and cheese, //

Like a summer day down at the pool, //

Hanging’ with friends when there’s no school!………………. that’s cool.


As I scurried to write down the lyrics from the board, the kids got to try the electric guitar (no amp) as they lined up to leave. They had a great time, even if it wasn’t amplified. Cool.

Blues Jam at Godfreys at 7 pm.

My first gig was at the preschool at Third Street Alliance. I brought in my rain stick, and it was a good opener and a good was to center the kids and create a listening space. Good discussion and the teacher jumped in with the plastic version of the stick. Excellent!!!

Today, I brought in my purple electric guitar and it also focused the group, recalling my acoustic guitar, introducing the amp, the pickups, etc. I went into I Like Peanut Butter, one they knew before, but now with the electric.

I recalled Rosalie, Where are You Going with two new kids and then Bridgette, one of the teachers. She did a great job and it was wonderful to see the kids watch her be a kids. Big, big moment in the class.

I did I’m Gonna Tell and it was good fun, exercising their vocal skills and some fun reactions with the older kids.

I followed with We Gave Names to the Animals and the kids picked up on the routine quickly. We had some good movement and interaction. I introduce The Cat Came Back to these kids and it was a little steep for these kids and I resorted to having the kids crawl around on the floor like cats. It worked wonderfully……

I have to start on a song with the kids (really young) but we talked about school, and potential rhymes with it… pool, fool, cool…… a start when rhyming is a new skill.






I headed up to Fountain Hill ES for the afternoon session, again two weeks after our last visit. I did Giants with Thunder Tubes, worked in the banjo and She’ll  Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain, and then concentrated on writing a verse to The Cat Came Back. We came up with:

The Cat was at Fountain Hill, prowling the hall,

He saw the Music Room, a guitar on the wall.

He strummed a Beatles tune, one by Justin Bieber, too,

The music teacher said, “Don’t touch my stuff, hit the road, shoo.

We were in the music room with the music teacher as we wrote this, so it was great to have her input on the last verse, so the kids can now sing it with feeling.

The project is headed towards a song about one of the ‘good habits’ that the district is promoting and I’m looking towards the one “Sharpen the Saw”, encouraging healthful habits to take care of your body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I asked about things that they do, when they know things are right. I brought up having my guitar in tune. Other ideas popped up like a sharp pencil, a cold ice cream cone on a hot day, soccer on fresh grass, smooth paint brush, slam dunk in basketball, and other good ideas that we’ll work on next week.

Another good session.


I lost a couple of gigs last week due to the foot of snow last week, so I was ready to get back to work this Tuesday with the Easton pre-school in the morning and the Fountain Hill after school program in the afternoon.

The day care kids were ready when I got in, and we proceeded to get to work. I asked them what do they remember from last time (two weeks ago) and there was some remarkable retention, especially with the Bear Hunt and Peanut Butter and Jelly. Today I introduced the banjo to everyone’s delight, and we worked on She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain and it was a hoot. I’ve developed some of the movements in the verses that lots of fun, and not the tame version that I’m sure some music classes use.

We added “Dorney Park Waterslide” and a “Jungle” to Bear Hunt, and that turned out to be a good exploratory session.

I did some hard traveling today in order to work towards the goal of a Calypso school song for its centennial. I’m  led to connecting these kids with kids who have gone to school here over the years. I did some work with old playground games and today brought up lunch experiences. We haven’t got to school learning yet.

I am welcomed with “Hey, Dave Fry”, silent waves and smiles, thumbs up and other ways of saying “Hi, Artist”.  We head up to the room and dig in. I start off with Giants with Thunder Tubes and it loosened things up immediately, without having to sing the Cat Came Back. (A few murmurs of disgruntlement).

We started on a rhyme with Calypso and settled on Hey, Ho, Calypso, something we can repeat, and the kids got it. They are invested!


Hey, ho, Calypso,
Miles of smiles that shimmer and glow.
Every day, we all  grow,
Ho, ho,ho,…. we refined this to a chuckle.

Verses, after some pretty good connections, and some sweat on my part.

Out on the playground, we skip and run,
Red Rover, Dodgeball , super fun,
A hundred years of kids’ tag games.
Jump rope, hopscotch , we’re just the same.

The morning starts with the school bell ring,
Learn math, reading and science things,
Time for lunch, Hey, what’s to eat?
Sandwich, an apple and a sweet treat.

We finished off with some dancing, knock-knock jokes and tomfoolery to end the session in movement, performance, recitations, singing, and more good stuff. This is a pretty rich learning environment. I’m learning new stuff all the time.