Did You Say Infants?

baby
I’ve been teaching music to young children for more than
twenty years, but about a month ago I was faced with
something totally new. I was about to start teaching at a 
lovely preschool, one I was very excited about, and discussing
details with the director – which groups I would work with,
scheduling and so on. Everything sounded great until he
said, “I think we’ll start you with the infants.”

“INFANTS? Hello? Real live infants? Are you serious?” I
didn’t say. What I did say was, “Um, infants?” in what I hoped
was a casual tone but which audibly betrayed my feeling of
“Surely you don’t mean… like, actual infants?” I thought to myself,
“My flyer clearly states that I teach toddlers through
kindergarten, doesn’t it?” and “What am I supposed to do
with infants?”

The director chuckled as he picked up on my poorly 
disguised panic. “Well, basically I guess you’ll be singing
to them. I feel it’s important for even the infants to have the
singing and the music.” Well, of course I agreed with that.
I’ve been saying for years that music is vital for even the
youngest children – even in the womb. And of course I’d
sung to my own babies. I said gamely, “Well, I’ve never done
a class with infants before, but I’d be happy to!”

“Happy” was a bit of an overstatement. I love babies, and I
love music, but it intimidated me to think of singing, alone, to
a whole group of tiny little babies, just staring at me. What
if they didn’t like it? What if they got bored or cried? At least they
were too little to crawl away, I thought. I determined to put
together a fun little performance for my newest students.

When the day came, I found six or seven infants ranging
from teeny to very small. The oldest-looking seemed maybe
eight months old, the youngest about two or three months.

When I took out my keyboard, they were fascinated (I knew
they would be). I played and sang half a dozen songs like
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
So far, so good – no tears, anyway! Then I did a little 
fingerplay, “Two Little Blackbirds,” to the accompaniment
of a CD. I finished up with a little “puppet show” of stick-puppet
birds who acted out a song called “Five Little Chickadees.”

As I waved and sang my goodbye song, I honestly didn’t
know how to assess my “class.” Most of them had watched me,
most of the time; that was about all I could say.

I’ve done two more classes with the “littles,” as I think of them,
since then. Each time there’s been a little bit more of a 
response. This morning a couple of them were smiling, and most
of them were interested in holding a mallet and banging on
a tom-tom drum as I held it. I realized I’m looking forward to my next
visit, and I’m already coming up with new ideas to involve, as well
as entertain them. I’d forgotten how great it feels when
a little baby smiles at you. Yes, this class is definitely a
challenge – but an extremely cute and heartwarming one! 

I’ll keep you posted on my future adventures with the “littles.”
Meanwhile, if anyone out there knows great music activities
for infants, let me know!

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