Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Story Time Music: Live from Story Time!

This is my third post in a series on story time music. The first post was all about recorded music, and the second one focused on a cappella singing. Today, I'll take things a step further with my reflections on playing live music at my story time sessions.

One of the things I have learned about myself in this profession is that I am always eager for a new challenge and always interested in outdoing myself. When my husband gave me a ukulele for my birthday in 2011, I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd bring it to story time. It took me about 9 months to feel comfortable actually performing in front of a group, but from the very first ukulele story time I did, I could tell it was a great idea. Here's what I observed when I began to play the ukulele in story time.
  • Adults were more likely to listen because they respected my singing and playing as a performance, rather than just another routine part of story time.
  • The ukulele was a great attention-getter in story times where my audiences were losing focus.
  • Kids were drawn to the ukulele, and often pretended to strum along with me, or even tried to touch my strings. They also lined up to see the ukulele after story time.
  • I didn't need to have a set of motions for every song because listening to me strum was entertainment enough.
  • I could still adjust songs to suit my needs and use piggyback songs, but there was something a little bit more special about playing the ukulele, instead of just singing on my own.
I didn't replace every a cappella song with a ukulele performance, because that would be overkill, but I found that a blend of a cappella singing and ukulele strumming worked best for my story time groups, and if I were doing a story time right now, that is likely to be the approach I would take.

Though not every children's librarian is musically inclined, it is important for each of us to find a way to share songs with our story time audiences. Whatever music you ultimately decide to use, I recommend trying different approaches, pushing yourself to new limits, and working on overcoming the fears that might keep you from singing your heart out.

Next week, I'll start to get into the process I use to select story time music with a post on choosing hello songs.
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