Song Swaps at the CMN Conference

The Song Swaps at the yearly CMN conference have become a hallowed and popular tradition. Members can add to their repertoire as all participants are invited to share songs. Below two Song Swap leaders from the October 2013 conference reflect on their experiences.

CMN Members learning from the best!
CMN Members learning from the best!

Reflections from member Susan Salidor, facilitator of the Early Childhood Song Swap.

The Early Childhood Song Swap was one of the last workshops of the conference, held late morning on Sunday before our final lunch and closing circle.  We had over 25 attendees, newcomers and longtime members alike.  (Note: This year’s crop of newcomers was quite impressive — readily signing up for Friday’s Round Robin, the first of two, sharing rhymes, finger plays and songs.)

Facilitating a song swap at the annual conference is fun, but it is difficult to keep things moving so everyone’s voice is heard.  After a warm up song, we preceded to go around the circle with the instructions that everyone share one song (3-4 minutes), name the type of classroom and ages of the children (combined, single preschool or kindergarten class, number of children), and let us know HOW the song is done (any movement or choreography).

Long-time CMNer and Magic Penny recipient Uncle Ruthie Buell shared a beautiful song (Over and Over Again) appropriate for ages birth to 90, and newcomer Maureen Conlin sang an original song/activity about what one can do with two paper plates, called “Drip Drop.”  Maureen reports there are dozens of sounds to be made using paper plates, and the fact they are inexpensive and recyclable only adds to their appeal.  We “walked the plank” to the tune of “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor” with Marianne Barlow, and Jessamyn Pattison shared her take on a breathing/warm-up exercise, focusing on the diaphragm, that she uses to begin her music classes.  Turns out long-time CMN member Patricia Shih is “new” to early childhood music, and even though she claimed to be there to “mine for gold,” she shared a new song she hoped would be good for young children.  We all agreed that it would!

Even attendees tried to keep their offerings to 3 minutes, we did not have enough time to hear everyone.  Once again, apologies to those we missed!  I know your work is important to you and I hope we have the opportunity to hear your songs in the future.

A few reflections from Bonnie Lockhart, swap facilitator for Feisty Foremothers & Daring Daughters: Women’s History (& Future!) In Song

We were graced this year with a big helping of strong workshop leaders who have devoted years to developing expertise and who shared their enthusiasm so generously. I remember a time in our earlier years when we were a bit wary of featuring “teacher directed” workshops, and wanted to avoid “star-driven” leadership so badly that we passed up some learning opportunities along the way. I’m grateful for our present organizational maturity, and that we now have a variety of different workshop formats and styles.

I’m also grateful that we still embrace those “question authority” values, and continue to believe that horizontal, every-voice-is-valuable kind of sharing brings powerful, needed learning to our swap workshops. I loved the swaps I attended this year, and came home with some real treasures. And I was very glad I stepped up to facilitate a swap myself.

I figure leading a themed swap is the best way to gather some good songs on topics dear to my heart. Women’s history and the continuing process of creating gender equality are such topics for me, and I was pleased to offer Feisty Foremothers & Daring Daughters: Women’s History (& Future!) In Song.

As I prepared the resource list for the workshop, I felt a little anxious. I wanted to share some songbooks and recordings that had been rich resources for me. But, egad! Nearly every book and CD that I wanted to include was out of print! Was it me or my topic that was just too twentieth century? Rather than ponder that unproductive question, I soldiered on and smiled to realize that books out of print are still  accessible here in the twenty-first century! I checked. Every one of the dozen or so CDs and books on my list was readily available on Amazon.

Much more gratifying than the continued availability of my dear old books and recordings was the outpouring of songs, old and new, from workshop participants. We joined Hali Hammer in Walter Robinson’s classic Harriet Tubman, and were captivated by Sally Rogers’ original bio-song,  Patience Crandall,  about a nineteenth century woman committed, against great resistance, to the education of Black children. We sang along with Nancy Schimmel as she wove the traditional Cotton Mill Girls into a true story of one young woman’s courage in leading a walkout. Sue Reier told us about Rosalie Edge, in hopes one of us would write a song about her contributions to preserving hawks and their habitat. David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans rocked us with their exciting Girls Who Rocked the World.  I wish you all could have been there to hear and sing these and more great songs. You can find the list of songs and presenters and my resource list by clicking on Workshop Handouts in the Members section of our website.



1 comment

  1. Bonnie what a nice way to put it….that CMN has reached a degree of organizational maturity that we can have both the “teacher directed” workshops and the “question authority” workshops! How true! What I think resounds throughout all of our workshops is the respect that we all share for the amazing work that everyone is doing with kids….it’s never about “star driven leadership”….some of us are nationally known names, some of us are not, but the talent and love that is being shared all over this world with children by so many CMN members is very special.

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