The Music of Children

Let’s face it: We all need music in our lives, even if we don’t know it. It doesn’t have to be professional or polished. In fact, it can be music we create. Nothing fancy, of course. Instruments can be pretty primitive, and sometimes the more primitive the better. Or at least, more fun. It was the fun part of this that made me research instruments that you can make with materials on hand. In particular, I wanted to see what children could create. I taught high school, so I didn’t have that wisdom that teachers in the lower grades have and that I’ve always admired.

Percussion instruments are always a favorite and the easiest to create. I found out that macaroni can be used in a variety of ways. I put some in a margarine container which made a fine (and pretty loud) percussion instrument. Anything resembling maracas was popular with my kids, so I used plastic spoons, plastic Easter eggs, and rice to make reasonable shakers. And I grabbed a big plastic bowl to use as a drum, but there are fancier ones with directions online. I discovered that it’s possible to create a primitive but workable guitar out of a shoebox, but I didn’t have all the ‘ingredients’ that I needed. However, I did decide to include water glasses to help with melodies. Who would have thought, by the way, that they’d be difficult to tune!

The one instrument that I really wanted to make and play was one I’ve admired since childhood: the spoons. I’ve always been fascinated by musicians, usually country, who could play them so well. I was jealous. And so, of course, I had to learn. I watched YouTube videos and read articles and, naturally, I practiced. And by golly, I did it! Not well, necessarily, but I could do it. I doubt the Grand ‘Ole Opry will be calling anytime soon, but hey…

I decided to sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm and accompany myself with water glasses and percussion. It lacked polish (I’m WAY understating that) but it was fun. I started this post by saying we all need music in our lives, and I wasn’t kidding. There isn’t nearly enough joy these days with COVID, the political landscape, and weather events that seem to be increasingly bigger and more devastating. I think we need music to drown out the sadness. And the louder, the better. And who cares if it isn’t polished or professional, as long as it’s loud and fun. If it comes from the heart, macaroni shakers and shoebox guitars will work just fine. Let the little ones create, sing and dance. And let their spirits—and ours—be lifted by the melodious and not so melodious sounds. ❤️

Author:

I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process. I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel. So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!

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