Songs of a Community
By Beth Wise, Music Resource Specialist and Head Teacher
For a week in July, the multi-purpose room at Bing School was once again transformed into a recording studio, as we recorded our third CD, which will be released at the Harvest Moon Auction on Saturday, October 18. This year’s CD, Let’s Sing At Bing, was a group effort beginning with the design for the CD cover and face. Ameer and Donald of East PM began the process by observing the previous CD covers and discussing what was needed to produce a new CD. Both children were interested in the technical aspects of how it would be printed, when the final product could be expected and just how the design would be replicated on more than 400 CDs. After a period of reflection and thought, the designs were underway and represented the first concrete step in the production of our new CD.
Sound engineers Lars Hidde and Heidi Verlaine skillfully set up their recording equipment in the multi-purpose room in a way that invited children to sing and interact with teachers, while at the same time producing high quality recordings of their voices. We included the use of puppets, flannel books and props to enhance the learning experience for the children and create an additional way to reinforce the songs and lyrics. The use of puppets helped give the children a focal point as well as injecting some humor and delight into the experience.
We invited each class to bring interested children to a singalong during music time, following snack, each day of that week. Bing teachers provided accompaniment—playing instruments including the violin, guitar, ukulele, electric bass, banjo and several percussion instruments. Many parents also participated and offered a rich and varied sample of songs from around the world. This year’s CD not only features songs traditionally sung in the classroom, but samples of music sung in French, German, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tibetan and Urdu. The lyrics for each song as well as a translation will be posted on the Bing website to help interested families learn the songs. One Bing parent shared a delightful anecdote about her daughter, describing how she proudly reported to family friends during a gathering that she could speak many languages, and then proceeded to sing the songs from the last CD, Live At Bing 2006.
Each CD, Live At Bing 2005, Live At Bing 2006 and the upcoming CD, offers different song selections. The first CD is composed of traditional songs sung in English and the second and third CDs offer a combination of traditional songs and folk tunes from around the world. Music is a natural part of the children’s lives at Bing. Children sing while at play—narrating ideas and dramatic play in a lyrical manner that comes so naturally to them. The availability of instruments will sometimes prompt other children to join in on xylophones, wooden rhythm sticks or other basic instruments. Daily classroom activities include music time, right after the children have their snacks. And at story time, teachers introduce two to three new songs each week, repeating them throughout the week to reinforce them as part of an enjoyable, shared experience for the whole class.
The efforts behind the CD project will benefit our community in many ways. The CDs are for sale in the Bing office, with the proceeds going directly to the scholarship fund. The CDs provide parents and children an integrated way to learn familiar songs and build a repertoire of shared music. Above and beyond all, the gift of music and the joy of singing unite children and families in a way that strengthens ties and builds a rich foundation of memories and emotions. Hope-fully, we will all remember to sing together, whether at home or at school, to build a culture of song within our own families.