Wednesday, October 15, 2008

people music.

i led 2 workshops this morning; a group of pre-k and another of k students. i've led a lot of songwriting workshops for kids before, though, never with groups this young. with the older kids the goal of the workshop is to write a song over the course of an hour.

today, with these younger ones, i decided to sing some traditional folk songs and talk to them about who it was that wrote the songs and the context in which they were written.

singing these songs today, "this land is your land," "oh, susannah," and "yankee doodle," i truly felt, for the first time ever, like a link in a long chain. i felt my arms locked with woody guthrie's, stephen foster's and richard shuckberg's (credited with having written the first verse of yankee doodle.)  i was breathing their breath as these words and melodies were coming out of my mouth. i was peeking through an open window into the past...and the future...maybe outside time altogether. it wasn't a mystical experience but it definitely was transcendent. and most definitely unexpected!

these children who i thought would be running around within 5 minutes slamming on one of the various percussive instruments i handed out, instead were mesmerized. they sang along, listened intently and then asked me to play the songs again as soon as i finished them.

these guys just knew how to write a song. i feel that they are kindred spirits and it is when i play and hear these songs that i understand "folk music" as "people music."  music for everyone.  music that never dies...even long after their composers do.

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