Music Monkey Jungle is a an art community where primates of all ages come together to sing, dance, play and learn through songs, dances and games that teach a myriad of lessons from multiple subjects. It’s been ingrained in my learning that in order for music to learned correctly, it should never ever EVER be taught by itself.
In undergrad, I was taught that music must always be taught with movement or instrumental accompaniment. In grad, I was taught that music must always be taught with movement, dance and active imagination. As a public school educator, I was taught that music must always support the reading, writing and math goals. And as the owner, operator and creative brain behind Music Monkey Jungle’s core, I’ve learned it’s of great importance, for the good of all music monkeys, to combine movement, dance, active imagination, reading, writing and math in support of our original songs.
My melodies, lyrics and musical ideas are extremely catchy. I’m acutely aware of it. As a matter of fact, I know my material is so catchy that it’s annoying and I’m not really sorry. As a singer/songwriter, it’s my job to write what the audience member will remember and as a music educator, it’s my job to teach so the student will learn, retain, apply, practice and perform. When I write, I keep these goals in mind 100% of the time and there is a method to my madness.
MELODY & EAR TRAINING
I formulate the best possible combinations of interval patterns for the development of perfect pitch (relative pitch). I make sure the combinations are repeated throughout the song as many times as possible, ensuring the song gets “stuck in your head”. Once the song is stuck in your head, you can’t help but sing it over and over again internally or out loud. The end result: you’ve been practicing ear training, listening skills and singing without even knowing it.
MOVEMENT, DANCE & ACTIVE IMAGINATION
Movement/Dance, Singing & Active Imagination:</b> I make sure all Music Monkey Jungle original songs, dances and games have age appropriate main ideas for kids between the ages of baby to late elementary school. Some will focus on movement/dance, some will focus on lyrics & melody, some will focus on active imagination and all will focus on ear training, listening skills and direction following.
MOVEMENT & DANCE
The active audience member is asked to listen in order to follow instructions and following the instructions of Music Monkey Jungle material requires learning and understanding body awareness, spatial awareness, personal space and range. Once the theme of the song is learned, I add variations of tempos and dynamics as a fun challenge. The end result: little music monkeys practice listening, following instructions, body awareness, spatial awareness, personal space and range while moving fast, slow, high and low without getting bored or losing focus. Practicing without even knowing it!
*A side note about range. When I sing about a movement that’s high in personal space, my melody goes up high to match, when I sing about a movement that’s low in personal space, my melody goes low to match and when the melody stays right in the middle, my voice does as well. Smooth, right?
SINGING LYRICS & MELODIES
The active audience member is asked to listen and either respond with echo call and response or question and answer call and response. Either way, both forms entail an understanding of following the leader, what a singing voice sounds like and what a singing voice feels like. Sometimes the main ideas of these songs are silly, sometimes the main ideas are serious but I always make sure to present the main ideas in an easy-to-analyze and fun manner. Once the song is learned, I add variations of tempos and dynamics and the result is: little music monkeys practice listening, following instructions, hearing and singing highs mediums and lows, echoing through call and response, question and answering through call and response, understanding that all songs have a certain form while having fun.
The active audience member is asked to listen to the song in comfortable surroundings, with eyes closed. The main ideas of these songs are presented in a fun and humorous manner but when they’re dissected and analyzed, it’s obvious they have deeper, lesson-learning meanings. I give guided instruction, before during or after the song, that helps the listener imagine in their creative minds and express their own ideas through drawing, writing and improvised movement. The end result; little music monkeys listen, hear, imagine, express, draw, write, improvise movement and share with others. Public speaking, teamwork.
The last part of my songwriting process is grounded in Cognitive Development. I have a clear understanding of the ages I'm writing for and the learning benchmarks associated with their development. I balance components of Orff-Schulwerk, Language Arts, Multiple Intelligences & various styles of learning into the mix and try my best to create a safe, comfortable and caring environment for creativity, risk taking and active participation.
Now you know my secret! I have an agenda to get melodies, lyrics and movements stuck in your head, creatively know how to do so and I'm teaching and you're learning whether you realize it or not.