The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116247   Message #2494932
Posted By: eddie1
16-Nov-08 - 01:43 AM
Thread Name: Help: Songs for children's program
Subject: RE: Help: Songs for children's program
Hi Steve
I've been doing children's programmes in the UK, USA and Germany for a long time. Maybe I can pass on a few ideas that have worked for me.

There's a lot more to it than just the songs. Your relationship with the children is the most important thing - don't talk down to them. (This is particularly important for me at 6'7"!) Make it very clear that you are on their side - I always get them to watch the teachers, leaders etc to make sure they join in actions etc and tell them that if the big folks don't join in I'll give them homework. I get a child up to help me with a rope-spinning session (using a trick rope which is very easy). I then get an adult up and hand them a real rope which they invariably make a mess of. (Sometime I will find a teacher who can spin better than me!)

I really knew this technique worked when, at a primary school, after the gig I was having lunch with the teenies. I was sat at a table with four five-year-olds and one eleven-year-old who was the "mother". She was serving the meat and I started to help by serving the vegetables. Nudge, nudge and this petite young lady next to me said "We're not allowed to do that - only she gets to do it!"

Another technique that works for me is to get the kids to "help me with the words cause I've forgotten them." This works particularly well with songs like "I Knew An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" or even the ubiquitous "Wheels On The Bus" although a teacher did ask me once if I really didn't know the words!
I always carry a bagful of percussion instruments with the odd kazoo, whistle etc and get a group up to form a band – "Mama Don't Allow" or "The Saints" are goodies although there are a lot more.

On reflection, probably most of the songs I do involve audience participation.

First song is invariably "Comin' Round The Mountain" firstly get them to clap then stop after a verse and ask them to shout "Yee-Ha" at the end of each line (tell them it's a cowboy song and ask them what cowboys always shout) then stop again and get them to punch the air while shouting "Yee-Ha!"

"My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean" – raise their hands in the air on the first word beginning with "B" then down for the next and so on (try it – it's not as easy as it sounds).

"The Bumble Bee" with full actions. I was singing at an open-air folk festival in Germany and after my spot (not child-orientated) was approached by a a skinhead wearing a Luftwaffe greatcoat (in August!) He told me he was really disappointed that I hadn't sung "The Bumble Bee" – seems I had sung it at his school some twelve years earlier!

"I Want To See Those Clapping Hands" (Tune – The Saints)
v1        I want to see those clapping hands x 4 (with actions)
v2        I want to see those stamping feet x 4
v3        I want to see those nodding heads x 4
v4        I want to see those wagging tongues
v5        All four lines with all actions together (and join in singing!)

If you are good at thinking on your feet, a great song to finish is a variation on Tom Paxton's "We're All Going To The Zoo Tomorrow" Get the children to suggest animals they might see on a visit to the zoo then get them to join you and do appropriate actions while you sing an instantly composed verse. Get them up one at a time but have them stay with you as you get more and more children up. You can always get the shyer ones up in a group to be monkeys or penguins. (Don't forget about the adults!) I learned this one from the late Danny Kyle.

Oh heck, this is turning into a book! Here's a list of some of he songs I do. If there are any you don't know and would like to – PM me.

Good Luck

Eddie

RUNAWAY TRAIN
CLAPPING HANDS
POOR OLD MAN
BUMBLE BEE
APPLES & BANANAS
SCHOOL DINNERS
I KNOW A LITTLE GIRL
MUSIC MAN
WHEELS ON THE BUS
ZOO
BUNNY FOO FOO
CANNY FLING YOUR GRANNY
NOBODY LOVES ME
RED YO-YO
OLD McDONALD
OLD WOMAN
MAY THERE ALWAYS BE SUNSHINE
MY BONNIE
GHOST RIDERS
COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAINS
BILLY GOATS GRUFF

Ps Have I given away all my secrets?