Claire Folts • Children’s Music Director

Celebration Singers warm up on Music Sunday, June 4.

This spring my children’s music groups and I had the gift of time. We sang in worship on Palm Sunday, April 2 and not again until Music Sunday on June 4. Without the time pressure of getting a song ready in a few weeks, we had time to play! And play we did.

On Tuesday nights, my preschool and kindergarten group used their loud and soft voices to help one child find Queen Caroline’s royal scepter, tried to guess who stole my dog’s bone based on the voice who was singing, and flew around like butterflies or crawled like monsters depending what type of music I was playing on the piano. Also on Tuesday nights, my 1st-5th grade group used forte or piano singing to help one child find the “anel” (Portuguese for ring), made sure they DID NOT sing my “poison pattern,” and got a hand clapping pattern faster and faster while singing “Aqua qua” (a nonsense song from Israel). On Sunday mornings, the kids came up with new verses for “This Little Light of Mine” by imagining different places their light could shine and motions to go with them. Some examples include “with my friends” “while climbing trees,” and “on a roller coaster.” I’ll let you imagine the motions!

Yes, this play was fun, and honestly, I’m not sure we need more of a reason than that to keep doing it, but more was happening than fun that only lasted for the 30 minutes I was with them. The kids’ community was slowly deepening. They were learning that here was a group who would cheer for them when they found Queen Caroline’s royal scepter or the “anel”— even the child who hid the scepter or ring cheered, especially if they thought they had found a “super good spot.” Here was a group that if they accidentally sang the “poison pattern” would say, “don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.” Here was a group that when the clapping game got so fast, they couldn’t possibly keep up and would simply collapse onto the ground in a fit of giggles. In other words, we’ve created a space where the kids feel safe enough and are confident enough to take risks and make mistakes because they know the other kids will support them.

Did you notice how many kids sang a solo verse on Sunday in the anthem “Over My Head”? There were FIVE. Not only did they sing a solo, but they each wrote the words to their solo verses. In addition to the five you heard, every single child in my 1st-5th grade group wrote at least one solo verse and sang it on Tuesday night for the group. I doubt I would have had nearly that many volunteers to sing their solo verse in worship, nor would every child have happily written a solo verse (or three) if we hadn’t had time to play together.

As we enter the summer months, we take a break from our weekly gatherings. But the kids continue to see each other. The community we have formed through musical play doesn’t go away, it simply becomes a little less structured. I can’t wait to continue building this community alongside the kids in the fall.