Monkey Music

I started teaching a class this week called Monkey Music at Prodigy Kids Performing Arts in Encinitas, CA. 3-5 year olds running amok with instruments is pretty funny, and loud! Over the next few months we’ll be making coffee can drums, shoebox guitars, paper plate maracas, jamming with our shakers, having drum circles, singing silly songs, and hopefully these kids will learn something about music along the way.

For the first class we focused on how we can use our bodies as instruments. We took turns exploring different sounds with our bodies and then we jammed. Clapping, stomping, clicking our teeth, snapping, rubbing arms across the floor, patting our knees, vocalizing, and making armpit farts were the favorites. Things were starting to get out of control (as a class of 3-5 year olds quickly does), and Aden had found a toy fire truck that he was now taunting another boy with.

So I decided to challenge them a bit. “Can you think of a way that our bodies are making music all the time without us even knowing it?” They were stumped. “What about when our heart beats? Is that music? Let’s all take a second and listen to our hearts beat.”

Total silence.

These kids who had just been running and laughing and jumping suddenly stopped in their tracks, closed their eyes, put their hands over their hearts and listened. And the silence went on. I was amazed by how long they held it, and not because I told them to, simply because they wanted to.

What a magical moment to witness! To see how tuned in these kids can be when they really want to be. And what amazed me even further was what broke the silence… “what about when we breathe?” a little voice chirped. “Good point!” I answered. “Breathing can be music too because of how rhythmic it is!” Then we all breathed. Quietly. For a few moments. And my heart flowered open as I listened to these youngsters discover their breath.

“I have a game we can play!” yelled Andre… and they were back at it… all of a sudden we were playing robot freeze dance to the sound of Putumayo’s World Playground CD (track #8). But that silence we all found has stuck with me, even days later. I’m touched by the fact that we were able to tap into the space between the notes; because if you want music, you need silence.

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