Fall & Spring: Song & Play

We continue our learning even in the virtual world! Working with the Ojai Unified School District, the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education & community program offers online classes with Ms. Laura.

Special thanks to the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee for their ongoing support for BRAVO, and to the Ojai Women’s Fund for their generous donation during the FY2020-21 school year! 

Click the tabs below to watch our Song & Play lessons.

LESSON 9 | 08.27.20

HERE WE ARE TOGETHER 
Our first day back, and it’s so glorious to be together, even though it can only be virtually for now! We are going to set ourselves up to be the most successful we can be, through singing and playing, and starting to learn each other’s names. How important is a name? It is how we are known. It is an avenue for attachment. It leads us into community. 

 

HOT CROSS BUNS, THE STORY
This song is often the first experience children have playing on an instrument. We approach this folk song through a story. Why did people not make signs to advertise what they were selling? How did people sweeten their food 1,000 years ago? What was the importance of singing in the streets? We also add the hand signs for the music notes.

 

CLICKETY CLACK
Movement causes our attention systems to click on. Adding movements helps lower distractibility. When we create a train somewhere and move to it, our brain kicks into participation. Participating physically in a basic way is a direct route to play. When we couple the movements with the words (notice the syllables in the fingers), we move the student into stabilization, and the emergence of intelligence.

 

LESSON 10 | 9.3.20

 

This week’s play involves the balance between repetition and variation.

TIDEO
The brain loves repetition. Up to a point. It looks for patterns. Then it delights when there is novelty, something different. Balancing these two helps to stabilize a child’s emotional state. The song stays the same. It is predictable. The fingers popping up are a surprise. Looking for a Hot Cross Buns pattern is always fun!

LESSON 11 | 10.01.20

 

Taking a look at proprioception, puzzling, and the playfulness of Mozart.

WHEN I WAS ONE
One thing that children need is tons of proprioceptive input. This is how they orient themselves to the world—jumping, skipping, stomping, spinning. They develop their spatial awareness, both of themselves and their environment. This song is a great way to play with rhyming words, and get the body up and moving.

 

SOMEONE’S WEARING
Here’s a fun way to connect visual art and music. When we are together we sing about someone’s clothing. Sometimes the clue is very hard to spot, but an amazing thing happens; the children become focused on each other in a positive way, hoping they can find who is wearing, for instance—”unicorns”, or “something delicious”. This positive social regard for other is important for gathering in community and building the tools of empathy.

 

MOZART CUCKOO CANON 
Have you ever wondered where Mozart got his sense of playfulness? Here is the first stage of learning his “Cuckoo Canon”. When we sing it in a round, using the hand signs, there is a wonderful symbiosis of challenge, skill and the delight in doing it. And we can hear the cuckoo bird. Genuine play has a characteristic of being autotelic—doing it for its own sake. It is so joyful to feel this!

LESSON 12 | 11.05.20

FARMER IN THE DELL – TRACKS FOR READING
Using a secret song triggers the brain’s memory and recall. The brain looks for an auditory match. It searches previous experiences and pictures it has made, based on our play of this game. We represent the song by acting it out in the classroom. Here is an extension of that—new verses to explore rhyming and phrasing patterns. The prosody of our language is reflected in our songs, and this assists with the development of language and listening skills.

 

SEE SAW
This folk song has a rich history, being used by lumberjacks who were using a saw together. They would sing the song to keep their sawing movements in sync. It is about an apprenticeship relationship, when there were master electricians and plumbers, etc. that would take on a young person to learn the trade. I think poor Jack liked to goof off, to which we can all relate! True to its nature, this song sung by a room of children and adults cause the group to sync together, matching awareness, skills, and action.

 

COME GOOD RAIN
We are learning to use the sign language symbols for this song. Children share why the rain is good. Being interested in nature, and the cycles of rain, growth, and plants is good for all of us to remember. Later on in school, this is a beautiful song to sing in canon, and as a partner song that goes with other songs. But first, we explore its meaning.

LESSON 13 | 12.03.20

HOP OLD SQUIRREL
This week we explore the importance of the proprioceptive system, and listening for accents and syllables. The most distinguishing characteristic of a piece of music is its rhythm, so we play with that.

 

RIG A JIG
This old jig from the British Isles enacts the joy of a chance meeting with a friend. Going for a walk and seeing someone you know can be an experience of amazement for a child. Especially when they see others from school out in the community. This song works to preserve that delight.

 

OH I KNOW SOMEONE
Learning to hear the accented and unaccented parts of speech and music are key to comprehension. Children love exploring syllables, both in their own names, and those of their friends. Sometimes they love when we make it harder just to see if we can get the flow of the number of syllables, the correct accents, and all at the normal speed of speech. It’s a fun challenge.

 

NOTE OF THE DAY
We spend most of our time singing songs, acting out the words, and exploring the sounds auditorily. This is referred to as procedural learning. The declarative process of learning note names can be done very quickly and is an addendum to our weekly lessons focused on play.

LESSON 14 | 01.07.21

Exploring sounds and symbols leads to increased literacy. And we have a science experiment with song!

WINDY WEATHER
We are excited about science, and pairing science with music. Sound vibrations are fun to study from a science perspective also. Watching how different leaves blow in the wind is curiously relaxing. It’s fun to make predictions.

 

LETTER POEMS
Children delight in challenges of object permanence, as well as searching for objects. This satisfies the brain’s natural tendency to look for patterns in nature (is that a saber-tooth tiger hiding in those bushes?). When we play this in class, one person drops the letter behind someone while we sing with our eyes closed. We love watching the face of the person who finds the letter, and gets to chase the other person. So joyful! Poems by Shel Silverstein.

 

ROW, ROW
Someday soon we will be singing this favorite in a round. At summer camp, we have groups of children acting out their own boats together, and see how they move across the floor. Then we have them come up with their own words to extend the drama. Imagination builds intelligence!

 

SECRET SONG
Once we have played a song many times, we can start to look at the rhythm. Rather than explaining right off the bat, we explore. How do these symbols function? These lines are just arbitrary signs that have developed into symbols in music for the speed of notes. Interpreting written symbols by having a sound for them is what reading is all about. Since the children know the song, they can search their memories for an auditory match. Doing is stronger than telling. By singing the solfège, we start to understand the relationships between notes.

 

LESSON 15 | 02.04.21

A symbol is a symbol only if it makes present again that for which it stands. We are playing with sound experiences. 

Sally Go Round
When objects can stand for other objects, we are engaging the imagination. Eventually, abstract symbols, such as letters, which make up words, can stand for objects. While playing with these ideas, the children are learning a lot of folk songs that accurately carry the prosody of the English language.

 

Note of the Day—F
In class the children take turns whispering their guess to me. The room gets very quiet, except that we all start laughing about how quiet we just got!  

Roly Poly Tracks
Rhyming helps our auditory system develop, and the auditory system is of primary importance for reading, either music, or language. In this way, studying and singing music helps the brain develop structures for greater academic success.

Penny solfege
Another symbol used in representing sound is solfege. This is the do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti of the scale. In our classes, we sing the solfege, explore the difference in sounds, and read the solfege after we have already experienced it. The song and sound need to be represented in our bodies and physically experienced, before seeing the symbols. This leads to a robust learning experience.

LESSON 16 | 03.04.21

Repetition and variation are the two spices of music mastery. We set up an environment where the students ask if we can do it again. This is internal motivation at its finest!

Fly Away
I had some birds outside my window, so I sang for them. The melody of this song goes up, and then it goes down. And our bird follows the melody by going up, and then coming back down to the nest. It’s so important to have a comfortable nest.


Here We Are Together

We not only talk about community; we sing about it. Our actions with our students and families show it. These pro-social skills help to build a safe environment of inclusion and acceptance. Our hands are singing the “do” and “so” of the song, too!

Clickety Clack
Children love the predictability of making different movements that correspond to distinct sounds. This helps us practice, by repeating the experience to achieve mastery. Changing the motions provides the variation that the brain needs to stay engaged. The brain is always looking for patterns, and novelty. 

LESSON 17 | 04.08.21

Play is one the greatest equalizers we have in society. When we play together, we are equal participants; no child or adult has any advantage over any other. People who have play experiences together are much less likely to lash out at their peer, but rather work to come to a resolution. Our games feature many opportunities for partnership and collaboration, as we get to practice listening to all ideas and negotiating solutions.

Bombalalom
This song comes from the deep south of Brazil and means “our place of peace”. Sharing our peaceful place builds attachment to our community, because it is something very personal about us, and we want to be known. The beauty of this song when sung in a round, or with other partner songs, or with its descant, helps us to appreciate each other.

Ginger Snap
Eventually, we have a room full of people with wings extended, trying to fly around the room. We bow to our partner, modeling respect. When we “take them by the shoulders”, all the children quickly organize themselves into a line (all by themselves!) to fly together. We have our own flock then!

Sally Go Round, rhythm, solfa
When puzzling over a secret song, the brain is looking through its memory banks for an auditory match. Sometimes a part of the rhythmic sound sparks a word, or a movement that we have previously done. The cross lateral indexing of the modalities of learning is one thing that gets dendrites branching. Building the experience to singing only one of solfa syllables out loud engages the skill of picking out the figure from the auditory ground, a skill so necessary in reading and paying attention.

 

LESSON 18 | 05.06.21

Today we have some experiences of kindness, acceptance, and integrity through music.

Note of the Day—A
Music is such an abstract language, but isn’t all written language? Once we make sense of it, we are all set. Once we sing it, it becomes concrete. Children love to explore the relationships between notes: in how they sound, in what they look like, and with the hand signs. That is why we sing a lot before we read music, just as we speak before we read. Emerging intelligence needs to hear it first, then see it.

 

Mulberry Bush
The integration of learning modalities happens when our actions line up with our words. Here I suggest actions that the children will know about, but maybe haven’t had direct experience of, such as throwing a snowball (coastal California!), or petting an iguana. Setting down this template in the brain, of matching language with movement, lays the foundation for integrity. We are doing what we say.

 

Love Canon, 4 parts
One of the great joys of singing together is singing in canon. Once the children know the song automatically, without needing to use up a lot of attention and focus to enjoy it, they are ready for singing in a canon. The harmonies in this song are wonderfully pleasing. The children are so happy to create such a thing of beauty. Harmony is naturally produced through the melody. They can own it, because they produced it themselves.

 

Make New Friends in Different Languages
Singing together helps us understand who and what we are. We are in a season of hope (at least, we hope we are!), embracing our common humanity. People from around the world are looking forward to coming together to greet old friends and to meet new friends. We embrace people and extend the hand of welcome. We can’t wait to get to know you better. 

 

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