Summer Camp 2015: What did we learn?

The summer break already seems a long time ago here. Those last couple of weeks of the holiday seemed to fly by and so it is only now that I’m spending a little time to reflect on what we learnt during our unofficial family and friends music summer camp.

I was frustrated that life seemed to be speeding by without me making time to share my experience and love of music with the children so I set myself the challenge of doing a musical activity with the kids every day (and documenting as many as possible) throughout the summer break.

Some activities sparked a lot of fun and creativity, some failed to live up to my expectations, but there were definitely a few valuable lessons along the way…

  1. Make time for music
    This was my biggest challenge during term-time, but once the kids were out of school/kindergarten/preschool and all the other scheduled and unscheduled activities I found time to realise that music doesn’t always need too much time anyway. Sure, I’m still struggling with making time and enforcing a regular piano lesson (and practice!) for L, but we found plenty of fun and learning in simply drawing attention to the musical moments in everyday life.
  2. Keep the instruments accessible
    Like many families, we had plenty of musical instruments around the house, but most of them had been hidden away in frustration when the noise got too much! We rescued all our maracas, harmonicas, recorders, drums etc. and stored them all in one, accessible place and suddenly making music became a viable alternative to watching TV (admittedly TV still won more often than I’d like!). Yes, there are still times when the last thing I want to hear is the children blowing into their recorders, but now the instruments are all together I find it easier to accept and enjoy the noise as a musical activity rather than just TOO MUCH NOISE!
  3. Involve the children in the challenge
    There were definitely some days when the children didn’t want to be coerced into another musical activity, but they are all of an age when they definitely want to ‘help’. As soon as I told them about what I was trying to do (introduce more music into our everyday lives, get back to teaching, blog about our exploits, etc.) their ideas and enthusiasm added immeasurably to the experience.
  4. It’s not just about the kids
    As we did more and more musical activities as a family and as I thought more and more about music I found my own passion for playing and teaching flourishing to an extent I hadn’t necessarily anticipated. I now find myself prioritising my own musical development to a greater extent. I’m rediscovering the pieces I used to play, learning new repertoire, and my current personal challenge is to work on memorisation, as skill I never mastered (or even really attempted) when I was learning to play.
  5. When in doubt, sing a silly song…
    If any of this sounds remotely ‘worthy’, please be assured that a lot of our musical activities involved parroting each other, singing nonsense songs and dancing around to Shake It Off. It’s supposed to be fun, after all!

If you’ve already dipped into any of the Summer Camp posts I hope you found something fun there to inspire you. If not, well, it’s not too late, just click on the Summer Camp category to find all the posts about songs we listened to, games we played, instruments we tried and all the other musical bits and bobs that kept us busy over the summer.

The blog has been having a bit of a break while I set up my real-life music classes here in Calgary (very exciting!), but I’ll be back with plenty more musical thoughts and ideas in the next few weeks – please stay tuned! 🙂

Advertisements

Summer Camp Week 5: 5 Sleepy Songs

So, after a week of singing and dancing, let’s calm things down a little…

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.

I can’t imagine this is going to be new to anybody, but it’s still one of E’s favourite songs so I couldn’t leave it out. You could also use it as an introduction to Mozart’s piano music…

 

2. Brahms’ Lullaby

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight
With lilies o’er spread is my baby’s wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother’s delight
Bright angels beside my darling abide
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast

This lullaby doesn’t necessarily have the most catchy lyrics, but once the melody is familiar to your child it could serve as a nice introduction to another great composer.

 

3. Golden Slumbers

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles await you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty baby, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.
Cares you know not, therefore sleep,
While over you a watch I’ll keep,
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.

When I was looking up versions of Golden Slumbers my youngest fell in love (or, more accurately, was mesmerised by) the version below, but don’t forget there’s also a Beatles version if you’re after something a little less saccharine!

 

4. Beautiful Boy, John Lennon

A favourite with my children ever since watching Mr Peabody and Sherman.

 

5. Sleeping Bunnies

So now the kids are all calm and quiet, let’s get them all bouncing! I’m sorry – I can’t resist including this – it’s not really a sleepy song, I know, but it never gets old in our house…

See the little bunnies sleeping ’til it’s nearly noon.
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
They’re so still, are they ill?
Shhhh, shhhh….
Wake up soon [clap]!
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop,
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop,
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop,
Hop little bunnies, hop then… stop!

The version on this video is slightly different from the version I usually sing, but I like it because it prolongs the bouncing – sometimes with really little kids it takes them so long to get up and bouncing that the song is nearly finished by the time they’ve got going. Of course, you can always just sing the hopping section twice through… or pause for longer while everyone gets up (if the rest of your group is patient enough).

 

+ Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

And while we’re bouncing rather than sleeping, here’s another great favourite. I love this version, from the brilliant Putumayo Animal Playground album.

Summer Camp Week 5: 5 Pop Songs

This category is very much down to personal taste, but my children all seem to enjoy a song with a singalong ‘la la’ or ‘whoa whoa’ -type chorus, so I thought I’d share a few favourites…

1.Something in the Water, Brooke Fraser

 

2. Be My Forever, Christina Perri feat. Ed Sheeran

 

3. Live Life, Jesse & Joy

 

4. Roar, Katy Perry

 

5. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison

 

MMMBop, Hanson

 

I fear some people might not thank me for including this particular ear-worm, but since I’m featuring songs with ‘la-la’ or ‘oh-oh’ refrains I thought this one would also go down well with the kids. Unfortunately it seems to have reminded L of her desire to have her own drum kit!

I did also try the kids with Blur’s Song 2, certainly the most famous ‘woo-hoo’ song I could think of, but they were disappointingly lukewarm. Maybe it’ll be a ‘grower’…

Summer Camp Week 5: 5 Long Songs

As promised, here’s a selection of longer songs to keep little (and big) people occupied…

1. Old MacDonald

This one can be as long or as short as your knowledge of farm animals/vehicles/crops and the noises they make!

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O,
And on that farm he had some cows, E-I-E-I-O,
With a ‘moo moo‛ here and a ‘moo moo‛ there,
Here a ‘moo‛, there a ‘moo‛, everywhere a ‘moo moo‛,
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O,
And on that farm he had some pigs, E-I-E-I-O,
With an ‘oink oink‛ here and an ‘oink oink‛ there,
Here an ‘oink‛, there an ‘oink‛, everywhere an ‘oink oink‛,
A ‘moo moo‛ here and a ‘moo moo‛ there,
Here a ‘moo‛, there a ‘moo‛, everywhere a ‘moo moo‛,
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

And on that farm he had some sheep… with a ‘baa baa‛ here…

And on that farm he had some chickens… with a ‘cluck cluck‛ here…

And on that farm he had some ducks… with a ‘quack quack‛ here…

2. There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that to swallow a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog;
What a hog, to swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow,
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse…
She’s dead, of course!

3. She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

There are a fair few variations on this one; I’ve included some of the most common verses I could remember below. Not everyone includes the ‘aye aye yippee’ chorus, but it certainly drags things out if you’re looking to build up your singing stamina!

She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes,
She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes,
She’ll be coming round the mountain, coming round the mountain,
Coming round the mountain when she comes.

Chorus:
Singing aye aye, yippee yippee, aye,
Singing aye aye, yippee yippee, aye,
Singing aye aye, yippee, aye aye, yippee,
Aye aye, yippee yippee, aye!

She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes…

She’ll be wearing pink pyjamas when she comes…

Oh we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes…

We will all have chicken and dumplings when she comes… [or cake and ice cream]

4. One Man went to Mow

It’s up to you how many men end up going to mow this meadow, but here’s a song that is good for counting up with each verse and then counting back down rapidly every time.

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow,
One man and his dog (‘woof!’) went to mow a meadow.

Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow,
Two men, one man and his dog (‘woof!’) went to mow a meadow.

5. The Hokey Cokey

This classic action song, more usually known as the hokey pokey outside the UK, can keep little ones moving for quite some time – especially if you add extra verses to identify and isolate different body parts (shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees etc.).

You put your right hand in, right hand out,
In, out, in, out, shake it all about.
You do the hokey-cokey and you turn around.
That’s what it’s all about.

Chorus
Whoa, hokey-cokey-cokey,
Whoa, hokey-cokey-cokey,
Whoa, hokey-cokey-cokey,
Knees bent, arms stretched, rah, rah, rah!

Verses continue with left hand, right leg, left leg, whole self…

+ 99 Bottles of Beer

In case Ten Green Bottles (suggested yesterday) isn’t long enough for you, how about counting down from 99 bottles of beer (or milk, pop, organic juice…)

99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall.
and so on until…
No more bottles of beer on the wall, no more bottles of beer.
Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

Tomorrow it’s pop song suggestions, I hope you’ll join me for some woo-hoo and way-hay action!

Summer Camp Week 5: 5 Counting Songs

As with yesterday’s post about action songs, 5 (or 6) songs is just a very small sample of all the wonderful options available, but hopefully I’ve included something in this selection which is new to you or an old forgotten favourite.

1. Five Currant Buns

Five currant buns in a baker’s shop.
Round and fat with a cherry on the top,
Along came [name] with a penny one day,
Bought a currant bun and took it away.

Subsequent verses start with the remaining number of buns until they are all gone.

A lot of these counting songs also count as action songs – with this song you could either use your fingers to represent the currant buns, or if you have a group of children you can act out the whole song with children as the customers, the baker, and even the currant buns if you have enough people.

 

2. Five Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day

Five little ducks went swimming one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mummy Duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only four little ducks came back.

Similarly to the currant buns song, subsequent verses start with the remaining number of ducks until they have all swum away. I like to include the final verse below to keep things cheery!

Just Mummy Duck went swimming one day,
Over the hill and far away.
Mummy Duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
…And all five ducks came swimming back.

 

3. Five Little Speckled Frogs

Five little speckled frogs sat on a speckled log,
Eating some most delicious bugs. Yum yum! 
One jumped into the pool, where it was nice and cool,
Then there were just four speckled frogs. Glug glug!

Again, this one counts down from five with each verse, with the final line being, Then there were no more speckled frogs. Glug glug!

 

If you fancy some variety, or more of a mathematical challenge, you could try this starting with ten frogs and have them jumping off in twos.

This is also a great song for introducing the idea of syncopation (stress on the off-beat) – try clapping the rhythm of the song emphasizing the syllables capitalised here, Five LI-ttle speckled frogs sat ON a speckled log.

4. Ten in the Bed

There were ten in the bed and the little one said,
‘Roll over, roll over.’
So they all rolled over and one fell out.

This continues counting down to one in the bed, until the last person in the bed says, ‘I’m lonely’, or ‘goodnight’.

 

5. Ten Green Bottles

Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall,
Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall,
And if one green bottle should accidentally fall,
There’ll be nine green bottles, hanging on the wall.

 

+ This Old Man

I thought I ought to include at least one song that counts up rather than down!

This old man, he played one, he played knick-knack on my thumb,
With a knick-knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played two, he played knick-knack on my shoe…

This old man, he played three, he played knick-knack on my knee…

This old man, he played four, he played knick-knack on my door…

This old man, he played five, he played knick-knack on my hive…

This old man, he played six, he played knick-knack on my sticks…

This old man, he played seven, he played knick-knack up in heaven…

This old man, he played eight, he played knick-knack on my gate…

This old man, he played nine, he played knick-knack on my spine…

This old man, he played ten, he played knick-knack once again…

 

Tomorrow I’ll suggest some longer songs… the sort that can keep you occupied/drive you crazy on long car trips.

Summer Camp Week 5: 5 Action Songs

Inspired by a Facebook conversation started by my dear friend Philippa (of the fascinating Thinking on my Feet dance blog), this week’s posts are going to be suggestions for songs to sing with your child or listen to together.

Few, if any, of these will be new to you – many are very well-known old favourites – but maybe one or two will jog your memory if you’ve got stuck in a rut singing the same songs over and over (Let it Go, anyone?).

1. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

This familiar song is a good full-body warm up!

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

Sung while tapping or pointing to the relevant body part with both hands. Subsequent verses omit singing body parts, taking one more away with each subsequent verse (you can substitute a ‘shh’ to remind smaller kids) while still tapping them. Sometimes the final verse is sung in full but as quickly as you can manage the actions.

 

2. Wind the Bobbin Up

Young kids sometimes find the arm rolling action in this song tricky, but it’s good fun working on it.

Wind the bobbin up, wind the bobbin up,
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.
Wind it back again, wind it back again,
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.

Point to the ceiling, point to the floor,
Point to the window, point to the door.
Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3.
Put your hands down on your knees.

Actions are rolling hands around each other as you wind the bobbin up (changing direction on the back again) and pulling hands apart, clapping, pointing etc as suggested by the lyrics.

 

3. Tommy Thumb, Tommy Thumb, Where Are You?

This one is a nice introduction to individual finger dexterity.

Tommy Thumb, Tommy Thumb, where are you?
Here I am, here I am, how do you do?

Subsequent verses introduce Peter Pointer, Toby Tall, Ruby Ring and Baby Small. If you are teaching your child about the fingers you can wiggle the appropriate finger on the first line, encouraging them to join in on the second line. If your child already knows the rhyme you could both hide your hands for the first line, and both bring out the appropriate finger on the second.

 

4. One Finger, One Thumb, Keep Moving

This is another fun one to get the whole body moving.

One finger, one thumb, keep moving,
One finger, one thumb, keep moving,
One finger, one thumb, keep moving,
We’ll all be merry and bright.
Verse 2.One finger, one thumb, one arm, keep moving…
Verse 3. One finger, one thumb, one arm, one leg, keep moving…
Verse 4. One finger, one thumb, one arm, one leg, one nod of the head, keep moving…
Verse 5. One finger, one thumb, one arm, one leg, one nod of the head, stand up, sit down, keep moving…
The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory; I’ll leave it to The Wiggles (sorry!) to demonstrate.

 

5. This Little Piggy

I don’t want to leave the toes out, although you can do this with fingers, too.

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

The finger-play for this is to wiggle each toe in turn starting with the big toe (NB. I do mean that you should use your fingers to wiggle your child’s toes – it would be pretty impressive to be able to wiggle each toe independently!), and at the wee wee wee it’s time for tickles.

+ 1 2 3 4 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive

I like this one because it helps young piano students get the idea of the finger numbers we use (thumb starts as 1), and they need to remember which hand is on the right.

One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive,
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, then I let it go again.
Why did you let it go? Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite? This little finger on the right.

I hope there is something in this list to get you singing and moving. I’ll be back with some more counting songs tomorrow.

Summer Camp Week 4: I’m bored!

Quote

So, of course, we haven’t managed to get through the long summer break without hearing ‘I’m bored’ a couple of times. Usually I just send the kids off to play (unless it’s me who is bored!) and they’ve forgotten they were bored within seconds, but last week I decided to embrace the boredom and let it inspire our first family song-writing session.

I found a big piece of card and set the kids to work writing and drawing things that they thought were boring and things that definitely weren’t (I prompted them by asking about activities, books, foods, songs, places, etc).

The kids sketching out songwriting ideas.We worked out a quick chorus based on the very few ukulele chords I could remember:
We’re bored, bored, al-ways bored.
We’re bored, bored, ev’ry day bored.
(F, C, G7, C, F, C, G7, C)

We’re still working on some verses talking about the ideas they sketched out and attempting to disprove the premise of the chorus!

This could qualify as a very quick activity as you need only go so far as brainstorming some ideas – in our case that seemed to be enough to remind the kids that actually they weren’t that bored at all.

If you want to continue with the activity you could…

  • Convert your ideas into lyrics or a poem.
  • Set your lyrics to an existing tune or compose your own.
  • Make your ideas into a craft project and make a big BORING poster, with written ideas, drawings, collage etc.
  • Practice together, and perform your masterpiece!

This is an activity we keep returning to – I’m hoping we’ll have an end product at some stage but, even if not, we’ve had a good time trying to be songwriters. And it’s never a bad thing to be reminded that there’s plenty of fun stuff happening in our lives!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “( YAWN ).”