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!