“Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit. Living in play means confirming our existence and celebrating life. Play brings out the greatness, dignity, and sacredness of our existence, which in turn gives impetus and meaning to our lives.” (Joseph Levy, 1978, Play Behavior)
I just stumbled upon this quote, and I love it. “Living in play” … what a fabulous phrase. At one point in class today, I realized that every person in the room, no matter their age, was fully immersed in the spirit of play — the children, the parents, the babysitters, the grandparents (and, of course, the teacher). We were, indeed, “living in play.” And to know that, at that moment, we were learning and giving meaning to our lives — that is a profound gift.
TRY THIS AT HOME
It’s hot, hot, hot here in NJ, and this week a mom and I came up with a fun idea for a water-play game. If you’re out in the yard playing around with the hose, maybe squirting the water here and there, try singing “Shake Those ‘Simmons Down” while you play. We brainstormed changing the words to “Shake those raindrops down,” but you could sing anything you like.
Imagine this: “Circle left, doo-oh, doo-oh,” while you spray left-hand circles with the hose; “Circle right…,” while you spray circles to the right; and, of course, you can shake the raindrops down by spraying the hose high into the air so they rain down on your child. You can make up all kinds of hose-play movements and words!
How much fun to add the happy-making effects of music to our attempts to cool off on these hot (potentially grumpy) days. Speaking of cooling off and happy-making, maybe I’ll try to “shake some ice cream down” tonight. I think I could sing THAT song for hours…
STORY FROM A MOM
OK, this time the “Mom” is me, but it still counts…
My family spent last week at the Jersey Shore (the beach, not the TV show), sharing a house with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew. One evening, while my brother-in-law and I were fixing dinner, he commented on my son’s tendency to sing snippets of songs throughout the day. “Gee,” he said, voice laden with sarcasm, “I wonder where Jacob gets his habit of randomly breaking into song.” I looked up and realized that I’d been singing a bit of this and a bit of that all through our dinner prep. I knew that my son had this habit, but I didn’t recognize it in myself at all.
I say in class that when we do musical things — sing, dance, bang pots and pans, march, whatever — our kids will follow suit. They can’t help it! Like baby ducks that imprint on their Mama Duck and follow her wherever she goes, our children watch us and are virtually programmed to want to do what we do. (I learned early on in parenthood to change my vocabulary while driving…) I really do sing here and there throughout the day, and my kids do the same (though my daughter’s tendency wasn’t as evident during our vacation). It’s lovely to catch a glimpse of my musical self in the mirror of my children — and to know that every family in my Music Together classes can pass along their own musical habits to their children.
Now, I wonder what other habits I’m unwittingly passing along! I hope they’re all as good as the tendency to sing…
CAUGHT IN CLASS
In one of my classes today, I noticed three distinctly different types of drummers: The Holder, The Builder, and The Tapper. The Holder sat with the drum on her lap and watched other people play with their drums. The Builder spent most of his time stacking his drum on top of other people’s drums. The Tapper used her hand to tap the drum in very much the same way that we grown-ups were playing our drums. Someone new to a Music Together class might have seen these three drummers and noted, “Only one, The Tapper, is actually having a musical experience.” Of course, that observer would be completely incorrect!
All three of these drummers were playing in their own, developmentally-appropriate way. Child development researchers have found that quietly observing, building with materials, and practicing the “grown-up way” of doing things are all three equally valid — and important — ways of playing AND of learning. Stopping any of these forms of play serves to stop the learning that’s taking place. In this case, The Holder, The Builder and The Tapper were all three learning a great deal about music, through their particular mode of play — even if it looked like they weren’t doing anything musical at all.
I wonder what other kinds of drummers I’ll notice in the rest of my classes this week…