Jany Campana is the winner of a signed copy of MISTER ROGERS' GIFT OF MUSIC! Congratulations, Jany! Thanks for always supporting PBJamz! I know you'll love this book! Thanks, Donna Cangelosi for a beautiful book and a beautiful episode of PBJamz! I enjoyed putting it together!
Interview with Nancy Stewart, Children's musician and music/literacy advocate!
What a lovely chat with Nancy Stewart! I discovered Nancy's website after I started doing PBJamz, and I thought, "Where has this been all my teaching life?!" It is chock full of amazing resources that Nancy offers free of charge to anyone who would like to use them! Many of them have sheet music and activities, even printables to go along. In this first interview, Nancy and I talk music and literacy: how the two are connected and influence each other and the importance of music to literacy! In part B in the teacher tips section, Nancy shared with me some snippets of how she uses some of her songs with kids to enhance and promote literacy in fun ways, so don't miss that second video coming next week (9/22/22). Make sure you leave a comment at the end of the blog to be eligible to win a CD & songbook from Nancy "Rhythm of the Rocks" -- a multicultural mix of songs! You don't want to miss out!
A Little Jam. . .(The Music Kind)
In the interview, Nancy shares lots of songs and activities, but since Fall is knocking on our doors and many of you will be heading to the pumpkin patch, I thought this little jam would be great to highlight for the season, and will be easily used by families, daycares, preschools, classroom teachers and farms with pumpkin patches, too! A very versatile song that doesn't need any instrumentation!
Teacher Tips, Tricks and Topics
I cannot do any better than what Nancy shares below! Her website (https://nancymusic.com) and the companion website (https://singwithourkids.com) are chock full of amazing songs and activities. She offers sheet music, recordings, teaching ideas, etc. If you are a parent, or a teacher, or a preschool teacher, or a daycare worker, or a music teacher, or an aunt, etc. PLEASE go check out Nancy's sites. Seriously! Bookmark them! Add them to your resources. So much good music, excellent tips and so much more on those two sites (and her YouTube channel . . . it's linked up below, and on her websites, too!). There is just really nothing more to add. . . .
Tips and Topics for Music Teachers
After watching back these videos, I really think whatever I would share pales in comparison. Here are some sections of Nancy's website that you may find of specific interest, although I would suggest perusing them yourself. There is lots of great content that you could certainly integrate into your music lessons! And so many fabulous songs that deserve to be shared!
Tips and tricks from the experts
Connection between music and literacy
Gifts, crafts and activities section
Writing Prompts from Tonnye
Inspired by my conversations with Nancy . . .
1. Write about a song that helped you learn something.
2. Write about a special musical memory.
3. Find a special book based on a song and write something inspired by the song or the book.
4. Write about your favorite song. Why is it special to you?
5. Find two books that sing the same song. Which one do you like best? Why?
6. Find a song on Nancy's website and write about what it reminds you of, or a story inspired by it.
7. (for adult authors) Write about your early literacy experiences. Did music play a role? If so, how?
8. Write about a song that helped you through a difficult time.
9. Write about a song that a teacher shared with you.
10. Do you think music makes sad things easier to talk/think about? Why/why not?
11. Write a list of rhyming words. See if it inspires a story, song, or poem.
12. Listen to some instrumental music. See if a story emerges.
13. Find a story that you think deserves a song and write one for it.
14. Think of a topic that you think kids would really enjoy and write a story or song about it.
For my author and songwriter friends. . . .
So even though Nancy is more of a songwriter, there are some GREAT tips here, most of which cut across writing picture books as well as songs. Also, this link on Nancy's website will give you some great considerations for writing picture books that sing!
Here are Nancy's tips for writing (songs and more) for kids:
Seven Songwriting Tips (or things to look for in children's songs)
Writing songs for children is an honor and a responsibility- and it's FUN! Children will pretty much embrace the songs they are exposed to repeatedly which gives songwriters a lot of influence in how and what children learn. Through our songs we can teach them about everything from language and literacy, to themselves and the world around them. Songs work because they deliver language through the emotion carried by the melody, making songs stick in our heads. Below are some simple tips to help you write songs that can impact children in big and small ways, and links to examples of my songs that demonstrate each one.
Tip #1: Interaction is key when singing with kids as they engage and learn by doing! Three elements make songs interactive; rhythm, repetition, and rhyme. Using one or more of these elements in your song will pretty much guarantee interaction.
Examples of Songs:
Rhythm: When I Hear the Music
Rhyme: A Hunting We Will Go
Tip #2: Think about how you want to use the song, or how you want the children to respond. Do you want them to move? Read? Be still? Listen? Draw? Your lyrics and the melody, and any instrumentation will determine how they respond. Make sure the tempo and music match the words so your intent is understood. Examples of Songs:
Hibernating Animals (moving)
JUMP! (reading and singing)
Wintertime is Here/ I'm Staying Just as Still as I Can (staying still)
Tip 3: Learn your song before you sing it with kids. This sounds like a no-brainer, but writing a song and learning it are two different things! Then sing it with as many kids as you can. You will get immediate feedback which may lead to changes and or improvements you never imagined.
Example of Song:
Dinosaurs in Cars This is perhaps my most popular song, and it's constantly evolving as children bring their own ideas to the story!
Tip #4: Try writing a song in a minor key. Minor melodies evoke strong emotions that fascinate children, and they are always a hit. (think sad, scary, dangerous, or mischievous).
Examples of songs in minor keys
Big Black Crow
Tip #5: If you’re new to writing children’s songs, pick subjects that interest the ages you are writing for.
Babies and toddlers: animals, vehicles, family https://nancymusic.com/SOM/2016/ill-drive-a-dump-truck.htm
Preschoolers: Dinosaurs, Vehicles, Movement https://nancymusic.com/SOM/2014/energy.htm
K-2 Rhyming, reading, movement, science https://nancymusic.com/SOM/2014/once-upon-a-time.htm
Tip #6. Avoid having melody give words an un-natural pronunciation. For example, If you have the word "LI-brar-y" in your lyrics, you don't want the melody to make you sing li-BRAR-y.
Tip #7. Lastly, dip into your own childhood for ideas and "thinking like a child." A single memory can give you a simple idea for a song or take you down a long and winding path to something even more meaningful- and it can be very therapeutic!
The Gift (Insect Song)
Links, More Fun, Extensions for Families and Everyone!
This episode wouldn't be complete if we didn't include the Peanut Butter. . .Jelly! song. Here is the link from Nancy's page. Enjoy singing along while you make this delicious Grilled PBJ sammie!
This grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich seems like the perfect way to welcome fall to me. Take your PBJ up to "another level". Check out the other recipes and tips available at She Saved by Keri Lyn.
Guest Links and Giveaways
Nancymusic website link
Sing with Our Kids website link
Nancy's YouTube channel
Nancy is graciously offering a CD and songbook for a very lucky winner! This would be perfect for a music teacher, a family with young kids, a daycare worker, preschool teacher or an elementary school teacher, or really anyone who enjoys kids' music.(check out photo below).
This page is the official space for PBJamz -- multimedia Jamorama celebrating all things PB (picture books) and Jamz (music), although we'll indulge in the other PBJ snacks where appropriate :-). Join us each Thursday for new content connecting picture books and music!