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Featured Blog Post:
Connecting the Generations through Folk Music
Have you ever planned a family gathering, or perhaps an activity where you work, that involved people of all ages? It can be challenging right? The little ones can’t read or sit still for very long. The eldest may (or may not) have some physical limitations. And yes, the folks in the middle age group might have to be convinced to put away their cell phones! Certainly, almost everyone will have differing interests and musical preferences.
Well, I have an idea for you.
Let me explain it to you by describing the scene at my house recently.
Here’s our family group.
Leon is two. His mom and dad are 30, his grandma is 65. (That’s me.) Great grandpa is 91.
Leon is perched on his little white chair, which he positions right next to the stereo speaker. He’s holding his “guitar”, which is actually an inexpensive ukulele I gave him. Gently swaying side to side he sings along to the music on the CD player. Sometimes he jumps up and dances and when he hears Old McDonald he loves making the animal sounds. (You can watch him in action on the video below.)
Great grandpa Jack sits near by; singing and clapping to the beat, encouraging Leon and joining in. He remembers these songs from his own childhood. Watching Leon makes him happy. Singing with Leon is even better.
Leon’s mom and dad sit on the couch holding hands and yes, they too are singing along. Their eyes shine with pride for their son and love for their grandpa.
And me? I’m sitting near Leon and of course I’m singing along. I scan the room, smiling. And here’s my observation.
Everyone is able to participate and no one is left out.
So what are we singing along with?
Perhaps you’re like me. I know a little bit about my family’s musical preferences. And I could make a playlist that everyone would probably enjoy listening to. And that would be OK.
But what if we want everyone to participate? What if we’d like to have a shared experience singing together?
That’s where folk songs come in; so simple and so deeply ingrained in our culture that everyone knows at least one or two of them. Joining in is almost automatic. I’ve seen it over and over.
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, Old McDonald, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain… These songs and more are what I call my “ringers.” They work every time.
And so…I invite you to sing along!