A little over two years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit a little group of musicians by the name of Church Mice. This group is not made of actual mice; rather, it is a class for children 0-4 and their parents. Church Mice was originated almost ten years ago by the former organist at Laurel United Methodist Church, a fantastic lady named DeeDee Gain. When DeeDee moved in the winter of 2006, I was asked to take her place as the leader of the class. Of course, I was thrilled and have been doing it ever since.
DeeDee is a certified Music Together instructor, and therefore modeled her class after that format. She did insert some of her own creativity into her activities, and encouraged me to do so as well. There are three 6-week sessions per year (fall, winter, and spring), and I have so much fun planning the songs and activities. There is a standard form that I stick to: hello song, shakers, tone blocks, rhythm sticks, movement, various instruments, and goodbye song. It actually looks very similar to many of my group music therapy sessions. There are new songs each session, and the families take home a CD and song packet so that they can listen at home.
Yesterday was the first class in our winter session, and we had a fantastic turnout with about fifteen families. Ages ranged from 6 months to four years old, and every child was able to participate in one way or another. One of the little girls, Violet (age 2), clapped and cried “yay!!!” after each song, which was completely adorable :) After class, many of the children who were old enough came up to me and said “thank you” and wanted to give me a hug, which is the best validation there is.
Sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself that I actually get paid to write and play music, and to use that music to help and teach kids. With any job comes a certain amount of stress and pressure, but it really is hard to feel that when I am in the middle of a class or session with a child who is singing, smiling, and making progress because of the work we are doing. Most of the time, it doesn’t really feel like work at all.