The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116247   Message #2495112
Posted By: Azizi
16-Nov-08 - 10:37 AM
Thread Name: Help: Songs for children's program
Subject: RE: Help: Songs for children's program
Another Mudcatter who's worked with children reporting in.

I've worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area as an African storyteller with either pre-school children or children ages 5-12 years/ I've also worked as a facilitator of game songs groups for children ages 5-12 years.

First of all, Sing-Along Steve, hooray to you and your wife for the programs you are planning! I'd also like to give a special shout out to eddie1 for his post. eddie1, I wholehearted agree with your comment that there is a lot more to sharing songs with children {or any age group} than the songs themselves, and second all those points you made. I also want to make a friendly ammendment to Gerry's point about asking children to teach you their songs, instead of assuming you ought to only teach them yours.

What I think is most important is that anyone working with children love children and also love the songs and/or other activities that they are sharing with children. You can't fool kids. If you don't care for them, and have little regard and sensitivity for them, if you aren't "for real" ,children will sense it. And if you "don't know your stuff", and aren't flexible [for instance scrapping songs or activities that don't work], then it doesn't matter how many good songs you know, and how well you have planned a session.

Obviously, the age group that you work with will determine what songs and what activities work the best. Another factor to consider is whether your presentation is for a small group or a large, assembly. In mixed age groups, I've found that older kids don't mind singing what they now consider to be "baby" songs, if you introduce it {frame that activity} as sharing the songs they remember. I think that approach is better than selecting with songs that are too advanced for the younger kids.

Like eddie1, I believe that audience involvement is very important. In my storytelling sessions, I usually pass out African musical instruments to all of the children [in small groups] or, in large groups, I pick children to help demonstrate those instruments. Needless to say, taking turns and picking individual children doesn't work for pre-school children. You have to have enough instruments for every child. Especially with younger children, I save the musical instruments till the end of my session, and they play them while singing a song that they already know like "Happy Birthday To You" or "Jingle Bells". {Yes, I know those aren't African songs, but that doesn't matter for that age group, so it doesn't matter to me]. With children age 6 and up, in small groups or large, I select children to demonstrate the instruments, and introduce concepts of being good audiences {being attentive, and clapping for their classmates when their turn is over}.

I like incorporating movement with songs. And if an element of mild competition can be added the right way to the performance, that could increase children's interest in learning and singing the song. For example, I have taught small and large groups of children a modified version of the song Jin-Go-Lo-Ba that Nigerian percussionist Olatunji introduced and Latin performer/singer Santana recorded. I start out by asking who can tell me the name of a song that people usually sing at Christmas time about bells. I build on children's knowledge of Jingle Bells to teach the song Jingoloba. The clip of the song that I teach goes like this:

Jingo Jingo ba[h]
Jingo Jingo ba
Jingo ba ba
go ba ba
go ba ba
go ba ba
go ba


On the word "ba" children {and adults] clap their hands and at the same time,stomp their feet. Soon they learn the pattern, but might forget it and clap and stop their feet two times instead of one time at the end. Technically, the person who messes up is "out". But the goal for these performances is to get through the song with everybody {or most people} singing it and doing the movements together.

Here's a link to an Olatunji performance of this song:

And here's a link to a performance of Jingolaba by Santana: