Narrowing my passions in the field of early education might just be an impossibility. I’m passionate about food, guidance, respectful interactions, multi-age groupings, play-based learning, anti-bias education, open-ended play, repurposed materials, nature play, outdoor education, and I bet if I thought for a little while longer, I could grow this list by another twenty or so items. A few weeks ago, the crew and I were the fortunate recipients of a musical gift that reminded me of how passionate I am about this area of learning.
I, personally, have a rich musical legacy: a mother and grandmother with perfect pitch. I have nearly perfect pitch. I can’t tell you what note the train whistle is blowing half a mile away (as my amazing mama can), but I can tell you if that train whistle matches the pitch of another in the other direction. If a song starts with an A minor chord, I can’t sing the components of that chord, but I can tell you if someone singing the chord is singing off key. I grew up with music all around me – in choirs since I entered school, enough dabbling in piano lessons that with some tenacity I can pluck out a simple melody on our piano at home, and impromptu performances with my best friend Erin whose soprano voice paired joyfully with my alto.
Music serves a similar function for us at Abundant Life as the sunshine serves for morning glories: as the light hits the blossoms, the petals begin to open, receiving the warmth and the energy. For us, music is a way of preparing ourselves for tasks at hand, for engaging socially with those around us. Music connects with children whose way of engaging the world is musical, enters the strong emotional moment of a spiraling child and helping to bring calm and centering, illuminates routines and provides constancy to transitions, supports synaptic connections in the brain, and a whole host of other phenomenal outcomes. My friend and colleague, Kelly Matthews wrote a beautiful article about the gift educators offer to children through song.
Imagine my joy when a friend called to say that she was learning the dulcimer, and asked if she could share her gift with us! I jumped (perhaps literally!) at the chance to introduce the crew to a new instrument and provide the opportunity for new friendships around singing! Bryson came prepared with nursery rhymes that were familiar to us, and immediately engaged the crew with this new and different instrument. The children took turns feeling the dulcimer wood and plucking the strings, and then they sang and danced as Bryson played. She was sensitive to the developmental needs of the crew, and took their cues for new songs and even altered her lyrics to accommodate the crew’s interest in platypuses! (And if you’ve ever tried to include a platypus into a song lyric on the spot, you will appreciate the challenge Bryson faced!)
We are looking forward to more dulcimer accompanied singalongs! And if you are local and have a musical gift to share, we would love a visit! Come to think of it, we can’t foot your travel bill, but even if you aren’t local, we’d make time for you to stop and sing with us!