Circle Time is the Best Time

One of my favorite parts of my day at work is leading circle time. For most of my kids, because it is the first half hour of their day at school, they are usually the most focused and eager to learn.  My two year olds (now-turning-three year olds!) can actually sit still and follow directions – amazing. Traditionally, circle time at preschool is the time to teach the essentials – ABCs, colors, shapes, numbers, seasons, days of the week, etc. I try to use as much music as possible during that time. YCCA has several standard circle time songs that every class uses which is a great way to unify the school and to make the transition easier when the kids move up to a new class. Favorites include “Days of the Week” (sung to the tune of the Addams Family theme song) and “Guess Who Came to School Today” where every child gets to stand up and jump when their name is called. 

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Circle Time on Silly Sock Day, March 2016

Over the summer when I found out I would be leading circle time, I decided it was time to write a new hello song. For those of you not familiar with the concept, hello songs are pretty typical in the music therapy world as a way to introduce and/or welcome each person in the session. No matter the population, most music therapists use some sort of ritual or song to get groups started. It’s a way to check in with the group and assess what the needs of the group are going to be that day. Usually a music therapist will use the same hello song for a specific group/individual in every session in order to create a safe, structured environment and then vary the interventions after the hello song.  A hello song should be simple, age appropriate, easy to learn, and engaging. As music therapy students, we all wrote our own hello songs, and at each of my clinical placements every music therapist I worked with had at least one signature hello song. At YCCA, our interns and practicum students lead their own original hello song as their first assignment.

I knew I wanted a new song that was morning-specific, that welcomed the kids and encouraged them to say hello to their peers. As most of my songs get composed, I “wrote” this one while driving (meaning I spent my commute singing aloud to myself in my car until I came up with something I liked). I made sure it had both an A and a B section. The A section is simple and rhythmic and stays consistent. The B section shifts a bit harmonically and allows each child to hear their name sung not once, but twice. You can listen to “Good Morning”on the My Music page. I tried it out my first day with my group of kids and have used it ever since. It took a month or two before my little ones actually sang along but now they yell the lyrics at the top of their little lungs when prompted. I will also vary it, leaving out word to see if they can fill in the blanks. For example, I will sing “Good Morning, My…” And they will shout “Friends!” or I will make them sing the child or teacher’s name.

My favorite part of singing this song is the look on each child’s face as I sing their name. In general children love to hear their name in a song, and when their parents have just dropped them off at school and they are feeling a little unsure, hearing their name makes them feel important. Most get a huge grin on their face, some wave shyly, others stand up and jump, one even does a semi-handstand/yoga pose.  It gives them a chance to show off their individuality and give them a special moment where they know they are safe and loved. And no matter our age, we all need those moments of feeling safe and loved so we can be free to be ourselves.

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