Preucil Preschool was invited by Green Room instructor, Dave Gould to participate in one of its community events surrounding music. We were asked if we would like to collaborate with singer/songwriter Rachel Ries and create a song for the event. We enthusiastically agreed.
We started by asking the children a very simple question on their very first day of preschool, “Why Music?”
"Because it makes people happy!"
“Music makes your head happy. It makes people happy a lot.”
“Because it makes my heart sing.”
“Country Roads, I love that song. I feel fulled up and shiny. It feels as good as a birthday party.”
“Music makes me feel sad. It makes me miss my mom. "
“You want to hear music when you are born.”
"It makes you dance all day."
"It gives me energy."
"It makes me want to sing."
"It makes you feel better."
"It makes me happy too."
"Sometimes it’s really sad. Or it can be silly. Sometimes it’s mad."
"It makes my heart shine."
"It makes my eyeballs dance."
"That’s what it’s all about."
We started noticing some themes emerge. The most prevalent was that music creates and expresses feelings—lots of feelings. The description by one child that “music is like a bucket of hearts” seemed to sum that up pretty well. And so, it only made sense to get an actual bucket and start filling it with hearts. We asked each child to tell something about music for us to write on their heart. They have each put their magical musical heart into our bucket.
Another important theme that emerged from the hearts is that music is better when done with others.
"We always do music together because it’s fun for us."
"I play music with my Daddy. It makes me happy.."
"Music is better when my mom is with me."
AND, if someone doesn't want to or know how...
"If someone says, 'No, I won’t sing,' you just sing and they see that its’ good and they can too."
"Take my hand, I’ll show you how."
Because this will be done in collaboration with Rachel, we needed to introduce her to the children. We started by listening to some of her music.
I told the children that Rachel would be coming to Iowa City. “She’s a real person?” I suggested perhaps we could invite her to Preucil. We decided the best way to invite her for a visit was to write her a letter:
Children who are part of our Afternoon Song-Writers crew know well that song-writing doesn’t just happen:
"I had to work hard. First my brain thought of making a super-hero song. Then I had to find the right tune by listening to different ones and by thinking. I put the words and tune together, and then it was a song. It took many days."
They know that finding just the right “tune” or chords is an essential part of the song. Lauren, our music teacher, spent several days with children—in our classrooms, in music class, on the playground—to find the right ones. Marit and Lauren worked with the children to find the words and rhymes that captured it all. And, all together, they created the beginning of a song. As the words and chords came together, there was giggling, clapping, smiling, and maybe even a teacher with a tear in her eye—it was all the feels—a Bucket of Hearts!
We sent a video of our song to Rachel. She added a couple of lines that we played around with until it all felt just right. And then we made a "spaghetti and meatball song sandwich" by picking which verses would be the bread, and which would be in the middle. We talked to to the children about our line, "I'll show you how" and wondered what we can do to show people "how to music." We had lots of ideas, but thought about Jane's comment, "you just sing and they see that its’ good and they can too." We decided we can show "how" by just doing what we know how to do--sing! We added a call and response for the "meatball" of our sandwich.
After reading a book ending with "music is for everyone" I asked how we can make sure everyone has music "Share it!" was yelled out. Who should we share it with? Their first responses were close to home--our moms and dads, our schoolmates, etc. But we've been learning about our neighborhood, and so we decided we could share with our neighbors which spring-boarded to"the city, even people we don't know." "The WHOLE WORLD!"
We've asked our family and friends to join us and add music hearts to our bucket. "We are going to need a bigger bucket!" As we sing, we think about all those hearts in our full bucket. Hearts from ourselves, our friends and family, our neighbors and community. Why Music?....take our hand and we'll show you.
On the first day of school as the children were just learning routines, I asked a question: Why Music? A big, yet simple question, left open to interpretation. Why Music? Some children thought I was asking why we were having music class—“So we can learn songs to sing.” Others took a more global approach to the question, “It makes people happy.” While some had a more practical answer, “To give me energy!” Why Music? Children at our school have music woven into their daily lives—it is as natural as playing, skipping, and laughing. Why Music? I have recently written a blog about the benefits of music—reading literacy, spatial thinking etc. And while that is all true, I don’t believe that is the answer to Why Music? As we go through these next few weeks of learning each other’s names, habits, and personalities, we will grow as a school community. We will learn from one another, and we will discover together, Why Music.