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MUSIC ON THE PLAYGROUND
singing of the ding-dong of bells, has brought the children back to the piano, you play or sing In Poland, which has been mentioned. It tells them to march. But immediately at the close of it you go back to Rosa. Some of the children go right on marching as though the music has not changed. But others skip and you praise them for listening so well and changing so promptly when the music changed. The next time the music changes quickly like that, perhaps all the children will change with it. They are learning to listen and to respond at once and very enjoyably. Now you play or sing the Cornish May Song, also in Folk Songs and Ballads. What does it beg us to do? We run or jog along gaily but comfortably. And so the children have experienced fully, though very simply, three different types of rhythm, for each of which there is no end of fine delightful music into which they can enter fully as the days and weeks go by. Besides folk songs and dances there are dozens of gems by the great composers, by Robert Schumann in his Album for the Young, by Beethoven, Schubert, Grieg or others, presenting these same types of rhythms to be danced to by the children. That is a great boon for any child
to have, giving him the
very essence of the full, organic response to music that many an adult has sought, often in vain, in a course or book in music appreciation.
Let us pause a moment to list a few books containing such suitable music. There is School Rhythms, compiled by Ethel Robinson and published by Clayton F. Summy of Chicago. This publisher issued also Music for the Child World by Mari Hofer, the second of its three volumes being best for our present purpose. A. S. Barnes and Company of New York offers Gertrude Colby's Natural Rhythms and Dances, Caroline Crawford's Choice Rhythms for Youthful Dancers, and a large book by Agnes L. Marsh entitled
Dance In Education. It is the music in these books that we are now recommending. Phonograph records of "music for rhythms" are also obtainable, and there is singing, violin playing or drumming Indian-fashion that are also suitable.
Now back to the children let us point out modes of going on with such dancing to ever fuller and more discriminating interest and responsiveness. We introduce other types of rhythm, for galloping, swaying, sliding, leaping. The children respond spontaneously also to differences in volume, as from loud to soft positions of the music,
Instrumental music, too, has a place on the playground, as this scene on one of the Milwaukee playgrounds will testify
to differences in mood of character, as between the Soldier's March and Northern Song, both of them marches in Schumann's Album for the Young, to differences in pitch, as when the music rises a whole octave on the word "sweetly" in Rosa, and to differences in speed, as when the music slows up or goes faster and the children rise with it. A gay call to skip or gallop higher may bring the larger and freer motions for which we look. Scarves or balloons are also likely to make for a greater freedom of spirit and fuller
MUSIC ON THE PLAYGROUND
motion. Encouragement may be given also to dance in two's or three's whenever they wish, then back into a single circle, and into any other variations they wish that do not cause the children to interfere with one another. The leader, and later a child, might call for such changes, as is done in a square dance, or a child might act as leader through her own dancing.
But early in their experience the children should learn to hear and feel when each phrase of the music ends and change direction at that time. While listening to the Cornish May Song, for example, they can readily decide when to raise their hands to tell where each phrase ends, as a line in a poem ends. Then, as in their dancing to it they turn about at the end of the phrase, they will be following an impulse that is as old as the oldest folk dance. In every folk dance there are these changes of direction to start each phrase afresh and often to balance one phrase with another. It is fun. And once the children are prompt and free in it, they can vary their dancing still more. For example, if they dance away in a straight line for one phrase, and back into the next, we might increase the distance to be covered by each phrase, thus leading them to make their' motions larger and more energetic. Or we might decrease the distance, leading them spontaneously to more in a spiral, or retrace some steps or make other combinations to use up the time. We might form groups of four, five or more children, for which one child is to be the leader for one phrase, and another child for the next phrase, each choosing the direction or movement or both that the group is to take. But the most valuable and enjoyable changing of movement is always that which is due to changes in the music. And this brings us to the children's making up of dances in forms like those of folk dances. This should be a carrying on now of the creativeness that has produced dances that became the folk dances we enjoy today.
Let us bring back Rosa to the children and invite them to make a group dance for it. Any child who has ideas for it raises his hand and if called on he tells them to the group. Other ideas are heard then, or after his are tried out, and a choice is made. Almost invariably the dancing suggested for the beginning of Rosa is eight slipping steps to the left, in a single circle, and then eight to the right, an idea common to many folk dances. The music following these two phrases is different, so the movement must also be dif
ferent. Very likely it will be four steps toward the center, four back and then four toward the center again, the arms and entire body being eagerly raised for the high note in "sweetly." What next? The tune is just like that of the first two phrases, so the movement should be the same as at the beginning. Thus, incidentally, the children are made much more aware of the design of the music than they are likely to be in a dance given them to learn. But they should be encouraged, not pressed, to enlarge their "vocabulary" of movements. The leader might suggest one now and then that would open new possibilities to their minds.
Besides making dances to folk songs and folkdance tunes, the children should make some for art music, as it is called, like the Merry Farmer and Harvest Song in Schumann's Album for the Young, and later for the Beethoven German Dances, and some of the Schubert and Brahms waltzes. Some lovely simple dances have been made for the most beloved of the Brahms waltzes, the one in A flat.
Now, this sort of dancing, up to this point, is not a difficult enterprise. All it needs is children, music and an interested leader who need not be a musician or a trained dancer, though to be one or both would be a great boon. Her main job is to behave in such a way as to bring the children more fully into the music, getting herself out of the way. But she should herself have skipped and galloped and danced in the other ways suggested, or else be one of the children and grow with them. Perhaps she should be one of them anyway, but if she is, she must avoid causing them to do as she does when they should be following their own impulses and ideas.
We have not gone into the dramatic phases of this free sort of dancing, into the rhythmic play of being a bear, a rabbit or even a rolling, crawling worm or snake (a non-venomous one) and into the rhythmic aspects of pantomiming a story. In the story of the Sleeping Princess, for example, the procession of the king or queen with their attendants, the tripping of the fairies, the stomping bad fairy, the old woman's spinning, and the galloping prince are all musical affairs, as are the sadness of the little princess' plight and the strange quiet of the hundred years' sleep. The children should choose the music for each episode from among a variety of pieces offered them. (Continued on page 105)
Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden
HE SPRING of the year is here. Soil is being turned over in garden beds. Buds are bursting on the trees, and life-giving sap is rising as food in the trees.
The experience of having a garden all your own is an educative and developing one, starting with the garden soil-to some so dead, to others full of life and action; with a seed, so insignificant, which later develops into something living and growing. From this little strip of garden soil with its flower and its vegetable seed come lessons of patience, of exactness, of responsibility, and of pleasure.
The garden is typical of life. It represents one of those interests that follow one throughout life, not necessarily in the light of a vocation, but in the nature of an avocation, helpful, pleasureable work for leisure hours. The garden is not just your little piece of land in whatever town you happen to be, but it is a travelogue in itself, for the seeds carry one all over the world. The tomatoes and marigolds, to South America; the onions and radishes to the Far East.
Then, too, the subject of botany, which, with many a person means only gathering so much. knowledge in order to pass an examination, becomes a living, everyday experience.
To have a young person's garden mean what it ought to mean, one does not start the day of planting, but long before that; plans are made, seeds are germinated, and some seeds are started indoors for transplanting into the garden later; soil is tested and experimented with; lessons are given so that children may
By ABBIE E. GRIDLEY
New York State Federation of Garden Clubs
know how to proceed in the best possible manner and garden planting will be not a haphazard affair, but an orderly, thoughtful procedure in a matter which represents both art and science. The garden ought to represent to a child the possibility of expressing himself, that is, in expressing his own ideas of what he enjoys in beauty and in charm. If his plan, after consultation, does not succeed so well outdoors, he himself will know it. There is nothing so vocal as a garden in its early stages. The seeds pop up out of the ground; they show their different attributes early in the game. We have planted either too closely or too far apart. We have young weedlings that struggle in an eternal battle with our seedlings. So there is a great deal of real study in the garden soil, real joy. Thus the garden talks to you.
After a young person's first garden it is a very excellent thing to let him sum up his experience and point out the weaknesses in his own plans. Perhaps he may be interested in just one thing,
Mrs. Gridley's report of the meeting on Gardening for Juniors is given a delightful introduction in a statement by Miss Ellen Eddy Shaw which we are publishing. Miss Shaw is associated with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which is conducting a most interesting program for children.
as some children are in gourds, the history of which is most fascinating and interesting. From that lead him to other things in gardening, so that just one thing does not mean a garden to him, but many things. He may like to raise some strawberries from run
GARDENING-A HAPPY OCCUPATION FOR CHILDREN
ners. So the garden turns out to be not only experimentation but also confirmation, adjustment, and in the end may be summed up in a couplet from Wordsworth
"He is happiest who hath the power
To gather wisdom from a flower."
On March 17th of Flower Show Week, the Federation of Garden Clubs of New York State sponsored a conference on gardening for juniors at the Federation headquarters in New York City. A large group of enthusiastic junior leaders from many states, including Texas, were in attendance. They were people interested in the future welfare of the younger generation of the country in general and deeply concerned with their leisure and recreation.
A program covering the field of gardening for children was arranged by Mrs. Albro Gaylor of the Nyack Garden Club, a vice-president of the Federation, and Miss Ellen Eddy Shaw, curator of elementary education at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with the cooperation of Mrs. William Crocker, president of the Federation.
"Is junior gardening worth while?" The discussion of this question was designed to bring out many phases of the project beginning with the organization of junior garden clubs, their fundamental purposes and methods of procedure. Throughout the garden was treated both as a home and a community project. Mrs. L. L. MacDonald of the Morsemere Garden Club of Yonkers told of the success of the home garden project in that city. The most satisfactory working units have proved to be groups of sixteen members from a generally similar environment and ranging in age from eight to twelve years. So popular is the project in Yonkers that there is a waiting list. Gardening, Mrs. MacDonald pointed out, fills a great need for wholesome occupation among children in their formative years when, under able leadership, they are directed into wider horizons of thought and interest. Acquaintanceship with nature opens up avenues constructively recreational.
Miss Miriam Booth of the Cornwall Garden Club reviewed the work done as a community project in that city to direct juniors toward gardening and nature interest.
The subject of the relation of the school to junior work was discussed by Miss Blanche Durgin of the Garden Club of New Jersey, where a
plan of instruction given through the classrooms of the schools has proved practical and successful. "The desire of the Garden Clubs of New Jersey in working with the schools is to open a 'potential garden gate' to every school child in New Jersey; to teach him to plant a garden, to care for it himself, to learn to live with it and thereby gain a basic knowledge of the worthwhileness of the handiwork of the Mighty Gardener." Toward this end the New Jersey Garden Club is publishing a handbook providing fascinating and entertaining methods for carrying out the plan.
Mrs. John W. Draper, who for years has held the office of conservation chairman and who is a vice-president of the Federation, discussed the "Conservation Approach." Her theme covered the evolution of seeds, of the caterpillar and of the child. She suggested it might be well if a child could begin by choosing its parents. "There is in our rush of life too little time spent in directing our children to look for the finer things each child needs in growth. Let him have his garden and express himself in his own way-express his own originality."
"Leadership," said Miss Wilhelmina Gerard of the Elmira Garden Club in discussing the topic, "Counselor Selection and Training," "is one of the most important phases of the movement." In her opinion it is well to have two counselors for each junior group and a training class for counselors where junior work is discussed and planned, and a continuous program carried out. The system used in Elmira provides that there shall be meetings twice a month, one held in each school with the counselors and the other in a central place where some special subject is explained, such as soil management, preparation of seed flats or flower arrangement. Contact with parentteacher associations, it was pointed out, is often fruitful in finding counselors.
The subject of awards and badges was discussed by Miss Frances Miner, garden teacher at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, who said that as the result of many years of experience in promoting gardening among children the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a carefully worked out system of awards. These are non-competitive and are in reality achievement badges or awards, each child competing with himself, so to speak, and receiving an award for his progress. All the gardening is done in groups of boys or of girls on the basis that such group activity stimulates interest. For the first three steps in gardening covering definite
GARDENING A HAPPY OCCUPATION FOR CHILDREN
projects there are three merit pins, one for each step completed. The pin, costing about 15 cents, is paid for by the individual after he has earned the right to wear it. The next award is a bronze medal. Then comes a silver medal, and finally a silver cup for particular achievement.
Miss Shaw gave a resumé of junior gardening which inspired in each leader a desire to guide juniors to observe the out-of-doors, to know and love flowers and plant life, to learn of the interrelation of these with animal life, to see and love the birds and the bees, and to know the uses of living things, finding joy and happiness through these channels.
All garden clubs were urged to participate in the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Constitution of the United States through the tree planting program which will include junior gardeners. Supplementing the planting of the trees, pilgrimages may be arranged to observe and study trees. It was urged that children be guided to plant trees and grow up with them. It takes approximately a hundred years to mature a crop of hard maples and trees of this type. Cooperation on the part of all is essential if there are to be trees for the coming generations.
Some Values of Junior Gardening Junior gardening is of such importance that it must be approached thoughtfully. Leaders must first take stock of the times, looking backward, then ahead to future horizons. Two particular images arise in the mind-the children and the country they will inherit. Garden club members have both as their trust. How well are they being administered?
There is in each individual an elementary desire for expression through some particular avenue which may be called talent. With this comes the choice of life occupation if the right groove is found..
All men crave recreation but not all the same type of activity, some preferring to originate and create and to be busily occupied. Educational systems of today have not met the needs squarely by training each child to fill the niche in life for which his temperament and mentality fit him. Examples of misfit education come to light daily. Normal and natural education should be of a type which teaches one to see, appreciate and use nature's gifts for sustaining and beautifying life. The garden club movement is a step toward promoting this in providing for juniors as well as
adults the stimulus and means of enriching life with beauty and expression.
Gardening seems most nearly to approach the ideal of "education of body and soul." Contact with the soil brings health, peace, beauty, companionship, discipline and a means of expression developing initiative and originality.
Curiosity is an important trait in children. It is this quality, which, if nurtured along right avenues, helps to build soul and character. All children are perpetually asking why and how. There is need for leaders who have the interest of the child at heart and who are at the same time endowed with the gift of interesting them and have a working knowledge of their subject. Upon such leadership the future of our country depends. There must be leaders who can see and tell of "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything."
Nature speaks to those who listen. She makes her appeal through form, color, sound and fragrance. She holds herself modestly alluring, but because of distractions calling more loudly, man is prone to pass her blindly by.
Any sincere gardener may enrich the lives of juniors by teaching them to love branch, bird and bee, and to respect the sacredness of life, and by filling their souls with spiritual food. Let the pageantry of seasonal beauty engage their minds and hands. Teach them to protect it all.
Group activities may be begun with the fiveyear-olds before minds and lives are crowded with other things. By keeping contact with nature on through life there will be built a more lasting enjoyment for the individual and a happier citizenry.
Sources of Information
In the following publications will be found programs for junior garden clubs which have proven workable:
Interesting Our Children in Nature (30 cents) Miss Blanche P. Durgin, 14 South Munn Avenue, East Orange, New Jersey
How to Organize Junior Garden Clubs (free) Junior Garden Clubs of America, care of Better Homes and Gardens, Des Moines, Iowa Flower Games (15 cents)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
The Junior Garden Club of America issues at the cost of printing a list of useful leaflets covering nearly all phases of the subject. There are spccially prepared illustrated lectures for children.