Monday, August 18, 2014

Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs - Part II: Midwest & Great Lakes

©2014 Brigid Finucane -
Chinese Lanterns
Special Note: It's impossible to limit this post to two parts, as originally planned. The richness of Heartland talent necessitates a Part III! Today’s alphabetically arranged post ends with K for Kate Kuper.  Part III will open with Bruce O’Brien and conclude with Barb Tilsen.  Stay tuned!

Hello, everyone. Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago, IL. Thank you for joining me.  

This post takes up where my July 18, 2014 entry, Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs – Part I: Midwest & Ontario, left off, and continues the mission of listening locally – highlighting musicians from the Midwest and Great Lakes region who write or perform for the EC population (though some also write for and work with older children). Many are teaching artists, conduct residencies, and present workshops. All are musical treasures.

I’m focusing on artist’s whose work I  use consistently. You'll notice that specific songs are mentioned with ideas for use.  Sound sample links are provided when available. Please remember that this list is intended to be a gateway and is in no ways exhaustive.

Karen Banks-Lubicz
1. Karen Banks-Lubicz, IL.
About Karen: “Music has always been a part of Karen’s life, and she’s grateful to be able to share it with people of all ages as a Wiggleworms teacher…” at Chicago’s beloved Old Town School of Folk Music (OTSFM). She also teaches in Ravinia’s outreach program, Reach, Teach, Play.

Kiddo Faves: From Karen for Kids
Back and Forththe perfect rocking song, either alone or with a partner. The melody and lyrics are enchanting, and invite one and all to “make music a part of your day.” Linda Robertson, also from OTSFM, recorded it on her lovely CD – so you can listen to a bit!
Hush Little Baby  - performed in a minor key. I use it as a comparative listening example after my classes have learned and sung the song along with Marla Frazee’s book of the same name. I wrote briefly about this process in a previous post.

Bom Bom Biddy a nigun, or song without words, is a surefire hit with little ones, and uses tempo as a driving element. The ending (“shhh”) can also be used additively. For those of you with older kiddos, here’s a challenge! (Note: the tune is a different tonality, but it’s essentially the same song – on steroids). It's amazing how complicated a few syllables can get!

Of Note: If I Were a Bird, the lyrical tribute to the power of imagination, co-written with Amy Lowe,* provides intriguing writing prompts for older kiddos. It  could even be the inspiration for a class book with illustrations contributed by students. *Amy Lowe also teaches at Merit!
Joanie Calem
About Joanie: “I am a musician, singer/song-writer, and teacher.  I have been creating music and teaching people of all ages since 1983. My goal in both my performances and teaching is to invite my audiences and students to share a sense of creating community through singing and playing together.”

Wintertime - Joanie paints evocative pictures with her lyrics, and after this year’s polar vortex assault, I so appreciate her poetic approach to winter! I partner this song with the exquisite book, WINTER’S TALE by Robert Sabuda, which explores animals in their winter habitat though magical pop-ups (the crowd goes wild!). I move the verses around to pair with Sabuda’s images, and use the chorus to transition between images: “Wintertime is cold time, slow time, snow time. Winter is the soft time of the year.”

Snow is Falling - I love scale songs. This song goes from high to low, with the class moving as the words suggest. A glockenspiel is the perfect accompaniment. It’s short, whimsical, allows for whole-body movement, and is sing-able (the key to success!). “Snow is falling down, down…”

Spring is A-Comin’ is piggybacked on to the melody of Train is a-Comin’ –and invites children to say and sing simple phrases relating to Spring (rain is a-fallin’, birds are a –singin’, etc.). The repetition of single phrases is great for ELL and our younger kiddos. Create your own class verses for other seasons!

Of Note: Joanie’s has two other CD’s: Shanah Tovah, Shanah M'tukah – A cycle of songs for the Jewish year (traditional and original songs) and But First Do No Harm, original songs writtenfor parents, family members, therapists, and teachers of children not on the neuro-typical path.”

3. Laura Doherty, IL
I'm a Little Fish
Laura Doherty
About Laura: …a nationally touring children's recording artist and award-winning producer with an ear for a catchy melody, she’s launched three CDs with child-centric themes, and like Karen (above), she’s affiliated with OTSFM.

Kiddo Faves:
Laura’s videos are fantastic art collaborations – and never fail to delight my kiddos. Here are two:
I’m a Little Fish. I’m not sure which is more amazing - the banjo-playing octopus, or the crab walking down the sand bank!
Wheels in the City

Wheels in the City. “Let’s go looking for wheels in the city, rollin’ rollin’ round and round…” is a celebration of urban transportation and all things round.
Goodbye Song
Goodbye Song- This song is not a video, but it’s the perfect way to end a class or day. “It’s time, it’s time, it’s time to say goodbye. A kiss, a hug, a wave – we’ll see you next time…” Picture everyone smiling and swaying while singing! Cha cha cha!

Of Note: I just saw Laura at my local Skokie Library. From past experience, I knew that she would beautifully engage the crowd with her songs and props, but I was unprepared for her artistry in another area - creating sound effects. A revelation!

4. Jim Gill, IL
Jim Gill
About Jim: Jim Gill is a musician and author, (and)… a child development specialist, having completed his graduate studies in child development at the Erikson Institute of Chicago with a special emphasis on the study of play. Jim has numerous CDs, but the songs I bring to my classroom, are often the ones I sang with my then small (now 21 year old) daughter. They have staying power!

Kiddo Faves:
Silly Dance Contest is a freeze dance, ideal for embracing then shaking sillies out when kiddos must remain inside due to inclement weather (too common in Chicago!). "Dance any way you want to, dance any way you please!....But stop when I say freeze!" 

May There Always Be Sunshine, is a lovely, composed, Russian song, which has become a signature piece for Gill. Years ago, with help from illustrator Susie Signorino-Richards, he turned the song into a book. The illustrations are based on suggestions offered by children he’s sung with over the years. The end page of the book lists hundreds of ideas!* Both songs are on Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other Contageous Tunes.

Two for Tea
Two for Tea, a new song I heard recently a Solomon Schechter Pre-K concert, is charming update of an old song, and great for dramatic play and math! "...add one more, and that makes four."

Of Note: *This year, after singing May There Always Be Sunshine and sharing the  book with my Merit families, I invited children to draw their response to “May there always be…..” and made my first class e-books from their artwork – a resounding success. The drawings, ranging from tender to hilarious, clearly expressed each child’s personality!

5. Kate Kuper, IL
Kate Kuper
About: Kate is a professional dancer, musician, and “…a Teaching Artist, working with children, from preschool through 8th grade. All her materials are kid- tested, and evolved from teaching to and creating with children over many years."

Kiddo Faves: From Alpha Beat – Songs, Dances, Poems, and Imaginary Journeys for Children.

The “Gentle Warm Up” section is lovely, and very singable. Tracks 3-5 reference the melody “Old Joe Clark.”
Action Dance – Verbs are our friends. Over thirty of them are used in this guided, stay on one spot, movement piece! Locomotor Movement  "goes from one place to another."

Swirl and Twirl, evolves, using spoken and “instrument only” tracks, into The Snowflake Dance.  The clearly designed Companion Guide can be downloaded from her Home page under AlphaBeat, and contains substantive material related to each track.

Of Note: Kate is a master rhymer and wordsmith, with a pocketful of great classroom management directions, e.g., “Stand tall, one and all.” Her blog, Let’s Talk Creative Dance, further amplifies how movement, music and literacy can support learning.

©2014 Brigid Finucane
I am continually inspired by the Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region. 

©2014 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Blog History: December 2013 – Present          

©2014 Brigid Finucane - Thank you for reading!

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