Thursday, August 20, 2009

All She Can Do Is Fall Right Down!

My wife Jennifer was raised in European opera houses by a pair of top-flight singers and her younger brother is a conductor. My daughter Josephine sings beautifully and has a clear hereditary feel for music.

Needless to say, they are all slightly horrified by the thought that I lead groups of children in song. I’ll confess to an inability to carry a tune and an ear so bad I don’t notice. I enjoy singing (some say tragically) and I think I’ve improved over time, but my musical abilities are limited. I try to make up for it with enthusiasm.

I mentioned a couple songs in yesterday’s post and a few people asked me about them.

Jump Jim Joe
I learned this song from Chris David, Josephine’s preschool teacher at Latona Cooperative Preschool.

I think of this as Woodland Park’s anthem. It’s a simple physical song that draws a distracted circle together, or lets an antsy group burn off a little energy. We’ve discovered that this song lends itself to endless variety. We sing it loudly with large body motions, or softly with fingers dancing on the palms of our hands. We’ve sung it sad, scary, angry, and laughing. We’ve used our high voices and our low voices. We’ve even sung it backwards.

I like it best when we sing it “in our heads.” There are few things more stunning than 20 two-year-olds silently “singing” together. We erupt in celebration when we’ve done it. It’s a real accomplishment to be quiet together for that long.

A few years ago, Josephine’s elementary school held a square dance. I was surprised that Jump Jim Joe was one of the calls.

The lyrics tell you what to do:

We’re gonna
Jump
Jump
Jump Jim Joe.
Nod your head,
Shake your head,
And point your toe.
And around and around and around we go.

Mother Gooney Bird
I can’t remember where I learned this song, but this is exactly what I was talking about yesterday when I wrote about having to sometimes set aside one’s adult dignity. It starts slow and then builds into a frenzy. A parent once told me that she learned this song in Jewish school as Father Abraham Had Seven Sons.

We sing the first verse standing, but with no gestures until the last line:

Mother Gooney Bird
Had some chicks
Some chicks had Mother Gooney Bird.
And she can’t dance.
And she can’t sing.
All she can do is this right wing.
(We tuck a thumb into our armpit and flap our wing.)

While flapping, we sing:

Mother Gooney Bird
Had some chicks
Some chicks had Mother Gooney Bird.
And she can’t dance.
And she can’t sing.
All she can do is this right wing, left wing.
(Now we’re flapping both wings.)

While flapping both wings we sing the third verse ending with:

All she can do is this right wing, left wing, right foot. (Now we flapping both wings and stamping our foot.)

And so on, until we get to:

All she can do is this right wing, left wing, right foot, left foot, nod your head, turn around.

The kids are always laughing wildly by the time we to the end, which is:

All she can do is . . . . fall right down!


And we land on the floor. I then try to bring them back from their frenzied edge by asking them to be little self-reflective. I feel my heart, “My heart is beating.”

And they feel their hearts. Some of them say, “Mine too.”

I take a deep breath. “I’m breathing hard.”

And they pant. Some of them say, “Me too.”

I feel my brow and say, “I’m even a little bit sweaty,” and they wipe their brows. Some of them say, “Me too,” but just as many say, “Not me.”

“We got some exercise.”

And then we’re usually wound down enough for whatever’s next.


Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Technorati Profile