In writing music & movement songs for pre-school
and kindergarten children, I felt drawn to exploring chase
games. Various songs based on this principle began to
emerge. The songs resonated with the children and also
satisfied my own creative impulses.
Here are three examples:
ANTS & SPIDER (PARAKEET WATCH OUT! ALBUM) first requires
the children (ants) to hide from the spider. As with GO TO
SLEEP, I immediately introduce the resting place to ease a
return to it later. Then, with a rockabilly beat, I play
and sing THE ANTS GO MARCHING.
Once the children have marched from the hiding
place to me, I introduce myself as the spider and sing the
chorus: “I am the spider, empty inside ‘er. Now you are
caught in my web! Hide if you can! Hide if you can! But
I’m going to get you instead!”
I modify the mood and intensity with which I
deliver this to match the age and temperament of a given
group of children. I make it clear that we are playing.
Regardless, the peril is palpable enough to engender
delighted screams from the children making their way to the
hiding area. Once they are hiding, the marching music
begins again, and the ants go marching again toward me.
In PARAKEET WATCH OUT! (PARAKEET WATCH
the children are coyotes chanting “Parakeet, watch out!” to
a funk beat as they step closer and closer to me, the
parakeet. Once they are close enough, I ask them questions.
Me: Are you coyotes?
Me: Are you hungry?
Me: Do you like to eat parakeets like me?
I sing: Get back! Get back! Get back! Get back!
Once they are far enough back, the process begins
again with chants of “Parakeet, watch out!” I ask the
children whether they would accept edible substitutes.
Peanut butter and jelly, French fries, etc. The answer is
usually “No!” which engenders “Get back, etc.” This game
is slightly more challenging than ANTS AND SPIDER because
the children sing.
ANTS AND SPIDER uses the following elements:
rhythmic movement; confrontation; flight; exaggerated
contrast; trickiness; built-in time-out. PARAKEET WATCH
OUT! adds the element of singing or chanting. I AM A DOG
(PARAKEET WATCH OUT! ALBUM) builds on this by adding the
element of improvisation.
In I AM A DOG, I stand at one end of a room, the
children at the other end. I start playing funk-based
rhythms singing “I am a dog, I wag my tail.” I wag my tail
and invite the children to do the same.
They approach me, singing and wagging. When they
reach me, I sing/play, “Let me put a leash on you! Let me
put a leash on you!” The children retreat to their end of
the room, and then sing “No, No, No! No, No, No!
There is rhythm and pitch to their singing part and
the children learn it spontaneously. The improvisation
comes in as I ask the children, “What else do dogs do?”
And so we go on to “scratch my flees, chew my bone, woof-
woof-woof” or anything the children invent.