The Obwisana Update

Teacher Thoughts: Lap Songs
By Amanda Campbell on April 03, 2018

Music Together Vivo director Cheryl Sabo recently sent out a pre-class e-mail to all families enrolled in classes for our Spring 2018 collection - Triangle.  In it, she discusses the "framework" of a Music Together® class - the song slots that provide an overall structure to each class - the Hello and Goodbye songs, the playalong, and lullaby.  There's another "framework" song slot in class for me, and that is the lap song/dyad.  This song typically happens towards the beginning of class, and its primary focus is the bond between caregiver and child.  Lap songs tend to have a lot of bouncing/tickling/hugging, while dyads - where pairs are created either from caregiver-to-child or caregiver-to-caregiver - tend to have movements like joining hands to rock/row or play pattycake.  There are so many fun songs throughout the Music Together collections that serve the lap song/dyad purpose well - "Trot, Old Joe" from our winter session's Bells collection, I know, is a favorite of many!

As a newer teacher, I must confess that I found myself getting into a bit of a personal rut with lap songs.   I'm entering my 9th semester of teaching with Triangle (the last collection that I've experienced as a parent, but haven't previously taught!), and I found myself wondering if I was doing this slot in the lesson plan justice.  Don't get me wrong, I could see my families were having fun with them each week - their laughs are infectious! My doubt isn't a reflection on them at all, but a bit of my own teaching insecurity.  So I decided to challenge myself!

Before each new semester, Music Together Worldwide hosts a Songs and Skills Training for teachers who will be teaching the upcoming collection.  It's a day long workshop, and the afternoon is dedicated to running through the entire upcoming collection with different Music Together teachers from the area leading different songs.  You have to meet certain requirements to lead a song, and I first started leading songs myself last Spring.  When I looked at what songs were available to lead for Triangle collection, I was immediately drawn to "Allee Galloo."  I remembered learning a line dance version of this when I took my initial Music Together Teacher Training in Hopewell, NJ back in 2015, and we had so much fun with it!  When you lead at one of these workshops you need to present it multiple ways, so leading it as a lap song (and also as a line dance, among other ways) became my challenge to get me back into my lap song groove. 

The workshop went very well, and I had a blast leading "Allee Galloo" - but it wasn't until an experience I had a couple of days later that I really felt like my "challenge" was complete.  My daughter was home on spring break, and she'd asked Alexa to play Music Together music.  "Allee Galloo" is one of the songs that Music Together Worldwide has available for free streaming on Alexa, and it came on while we were listening.  My daughter got the BIGGEST smile on her face!  For those of you who don't know me, my daughter is non-verbal at the moment, and uses an iPad with a speech application to communicate with us.  She is 5 years old, and currently has a grid of about 24 buttons/folders that gives her access to hundreds of words now - but this access is fairly recent.  She's never really been able to tell me her favorite songs, things to do, etc.  I could guess, of course, but it is a whole different world when they can tell you!  So when she got this big smile on her face, I made sure she had her iPad and asked her if this was one of her favorite songs.  She said yes!  When I asked her why she loved this song, her response was simple: 

Wow.  I really was a bit speechless in the moment.  And it still makes me tear up a bit as I'm writing this. Talk about a "from the mouths of babes" moment! In just 3 words she showed me how much I was overthinking, and put the most important thing front and center - the bond between caregiver and child! Challenge over, lesson learned for me!  It may have felt too repetitive, or not "enough," to me - but that repetition and that bond with me is precisely what my daughter loves - even now at 5 years old! (And yes, as soon as she said that, we absolutely did "Allee Galloo" as a lap song right in the middle of the dining room!)

So, Music Together Vivo community, as we start on a new semester, I pass on a challenge to you too:  Embrace the repetition! It can seem boring to us as adults, but children thrive on repetition and structure!  Of course it's OK to take a break after the thousandth time of bouncing along to "Trot, Old Joe" - but don't forget to come back to it again.  The bond created by simple moments like bouncing and singing together is totally worth the sore knees!

The Power of Lullabies
By Amanda Campbell on November 11, 2017

Picture of toddler Anna from Frozen with the caption "The sky's awake, so I'm awake, so we have to play!"
Today was one of those days that just felt like it was going on and on and on and on and on...

My daughter, we'll call her S, woke up early this morning and was rarin' to go right away - no slow, cuddly Saturday morning for us this morning!  She reminded me a bit of one of the characters from her favorite movie, Anna from Frozen (see the image and caption to the right!) - the sky was awake, so S was awake, and she needed to play!

We had a nice breakfast, and then the whole family went out to do some shopping at the outlets...completely forgetting that it's Veteran's Day weekend.  The stores. were. packed.  Trying to corral any 5 year old in that kind of craziness is a losing battle, and we definitely felt like we had fought (and lost) that battle by the time we headed home.  We had a 45 min drive home, and I actually fell asleep in the car.  My husband fell asleep on the couch for a bit after we arrived home.  S just kept on going, as full of energy as she was when she woke up this morning.  In some ways it was absolutely adorable.  Watching her grab her grandmother's hand and try to give her toys to play with her, listening to all of her exclamations of happiness...but then there was also the constant walking away from us (and necessary redirection) while we were out, the fighting about going to the bathroom (because one does not just leave their toys to go the bathroom, don't you know that mommy?), the constant asking for snacks (despite having had plenty to eat already and it being almost dinner-time).  By the time bedtime came around, I was beat, and I had half a mind to say to Daddy that he could put her to bed tonight.  But as I sat in the rocking chair waiting for her to come back from the bathroom one last time, I realized that I'd really love to have her sleepy cuddles tonight if she'd slow down enough to cuddle. 

Mom lying on the floor, kissing a young toddler on the headWhen she came back, we shut off the light, and I started singing her "her" lullaby - "Su La Li" from Music Together's Maracas collection (her having a lullaby that's "hers" is rather new for us, but that's a whole different post!).  When I sing it, I sing the first verse on the syllables from the collection.  The second time I sing the lullaby on "I Love You" and the 3rd time I use her first and middle name. The final time, I hum the melody.  Normally she doesn't fall asleep right away, and we cuddle for a bit before she really settles.  Tonight, though, she was out like a light before I was even done with the verse I sing on her name! 

I was really struck by that moment.  I felt her body melt into mine as she slowly slipped off into dreamland.  It's not the first night she's fallen asleep on me like that, but tonight it really reminded me how safe and happy she must feel in my arms to be able to fall asleep being held like that.  Coming to that realization, in that moment, I then felt all the stress of my day melt away and just felt awestruck at the power that a simple lullaby held for both of us tonight.  For her, the power to soothe and calm from a seemingly unending hectic day into deep sleep within just a few minutes.  For me, the power to melt away the day's stress and appreciate that my 5 year old and I can still have moments like that together. The bond I felt with her as she snuggled into a deep sleep while I was singing was incredible. I know the day is soon coming when she won't be able to fit in my lap for stories or lullabies anymore, which makes moments like this even more precious to me.  

I hope nobody reading this assumes that this is what nights are like at our house all the time - trust me, they aren't!  Last weekend no amount of lullabies helped S go to sleep earlier than 11:30pm, and we had middle-of-the-night waking issues to deal with too.  But, no matter how the night or day goes, lullabies are always a part of our routine and tonight's experience was the perfect reminder of the power they have for both S and for myself.  

Does your family have a lullaby you call "yours"?  Remember, any song can be a's more about how the song is sung than the song itself!  Share your favorite lullaby in the comments!

Hello, Everybody!
By Amanda Campbell on September 01, 2017

Collage of pictures showing children of different ages making music together with the name of the blog "Obwisana Update."
We're so glad to see you!

Welcome to Music Together Vivo's new blog, The Obwisana Update.  Our center director, Cheryl Sabo, wanted a way to be able to expand on some of the concepts your Music Together Vivo teachers bring up in class, and so the Obwisana Update was created. 

Please check back periodically for posts about early childhood development, musical development, ideas for how you can use the songs you learn in class as parenting tools (and just for fun too!), and perhaps even personal insights and stories from our teachers as well.  We might even get a bit crafty sometimes!

If there's a topic you have any questions about, or would like to hear more about from us, please let us know by sending us a quick e-mail!