This Wednesday, May 18, the 4-5s, 5-6s, 6-7s and 7-8s sang for each other and their parents at the annual SingAlong. Accompanied by me on guitar and Mina Yu on piano, our songs originated in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Britain, Israel, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Woody Guthrie, who is considered by some to be a nation unto himself. The 7-8s sang in three-part harmony. All students sang a total of six rounds, keeping their own melody while listening to another’s. What a metaphor for tolerance!
The first SingAlong took place about 20 years ago when Lois Gelernt, then Lower School director, suggested to me that it would be good for Lower School parents to experience some of the work that their children were doing in music classes. Lois suggested it be less a performance and more of—as we called it back then—a hootenanny, truly a sing-a-long, with parent participation.
Lois visualized an hour when parents, children and teachers would engage in music-making through singing, sometimes accompanied by simple percussion, and dancing. She painted a picture of a participatory, community-building event celebrating music and children.
The SingAlong has evolved over the years, sometimes being more performance-oriented, but always keeping its roots in the folk tradition of Pete Seeger who, at his concerts, was a master at eliciting singing from his audiences. The MCS music program for 4-5s through 7-8s has been based on this model which, for 35 years, has been engaging children with the ideas and mission of the school through music.