Loving voices

Children explore music and feelings with Ivy Little

By Ariana Kramer
Posted 5/28/20

Ivy Little is enthusiastic about music and kids.

She brings the two together in her weekly classes at Twirl with a joyful exuberance that is easy to catch. Little teaches a Family Music class on Tuesdays and a Friday Feelings Corner on Fridays. Both classes incorporate music, and both are now taking place at 11 a.m. online at facebook.com/twirltaos. They are designed for toddlers through elementary school children. Little also runs a group for infants and their parents which she is converting to an online format on YouTube.

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Loving voices

Children explore music and feelings with Ivy Little

Posted

Ivy Little is enthusiastic about music and kids.

She brings the two together in her weekly classes at Twirl with a joyful exuberance that is easy to catch. Little teaches a Family Music class on Tuesdays and a Friday Feelings Corner on Fridays. Both classes incorporate music, and both are now taking place at 11 a.m. online at facebook.com/twirltaos. They are designed for toddlers through elementary school children. Little also runs a group for infants and their parents which she is converting to an online format on YouTube.

Little's musical background has included singing in a competitive choir and playing harp and violin. In all of her work with young children, Little says, "Communication and emotional intelligence are really central to my philosophy."

She adds, "Music is really part of that." Little says research has shown that music helps young children's brains to develop learning capacity - laying a foundation for future ease of learning in mathematics, languages and other areas.

Making music together with others is also emotionally bonding. These are some of the reasons Little is so enthusiastic about introducing young children to a variety of music through playful activities.

I interviewed Little by phone about her work. The following is an edited excerpt from our conversation.

What do you like about working with kids?

You know, it's all about love for me. I love them with my whole heart. They light me up.

Tell me a little about your work with Twirl.

I started working at Twirl about seven years ago alongside my child care work and then inherited the music classes from the educator who was doing them at the time. I started the infant music class as well.

How do you teach music in your Family Music class?

I try to have a lot of variety in the time signatures, and sing new songs, old songs, songs in 3/4 time, songs in 4/4 time, songs that lend themselves really well to basic rhythms and some of the older lullabies from places like Scotland that are in minor keys.

Anything that provides more contrast is something that is a catalyst for a kid's brain to explore. They get sparked up by that. That's why I try to keep it moving from one format to the next and use hand motions and instruments to integrate all the different ways that kids can engage with music all in one go. So kids with different learning styles, or who are just in a different developmental spot that week, have something new to grab hold of. Their brains are so magical.

Can you talk a little bit about the Friday Feelings Corner class?

I started it this spring in response to the COVID-19 situation. My fascination with early childhood development and language and communication and teaching empathy has led me to put a lot of thought, time and work into how to break down our emotions, and our emotional reality, into their most basic form in a teachable way.

I try to give kids the language, tools and understanding to cope with their emotions and help them understand each other. In my experience if you can build that awareness into the lessons they're getting when they're ages 2 to 5 when they're learning all the time from everything, that's when those understandings become part of who they are as a person, and not just rules to follow because you're supposed to. They understand their place as a part of a greater whole.

What music do you use in the Friday Feelings Corner?

The music actually is mine - children's songs I've been writing for the last few years. I've been writing these songs formulated to make those concepts fun and simple and also to have a touchstone that families can use. There's the main song I sing every week in the class, called "Loving Choices." Would you like me to sing it?

Yes!

(singing):

Even when we're grumpy, even when we're hungry, even when we're tired,

we use loving voices.

Even when we're grumpy, even when we're hungry, even when we're tired,

we make loving choices.

I'm kind to you, you're kind to me, 'cause we're all one big family.

I'm kind to you, you're kind to me, 'cause that's how we treat friends.

Even when we're nervous, even when we're angry, even when we're worried,

we use loving voices.

Even when we're nervous, even when we're angry, even when we're worried,

we make loving choices.

Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes we miss. That's why everybody needs practice. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes we miss. So, we're kind to ourselves, too.

I think we all need to hear that right now.

That's the idea. That's what I'm trying to teach, especially during this time of heightened stress and short tempers and weirdness - that we all remember that we're all always still practicing. Even as grown-ups. We're always still learning. And, sometimes it is hard. And, that's why it takes practice. And, we need to forgive each other, but we also really need to forgive ourselves. And, make a promise to treat each other with love as best we can.

What would you say to a child who might want to participate but has never taken a class at Twirl (or maybe anywhere) before?

Mostly, it's just a place to play together. You get to just jump up, play and be silly. It's a time and a space to have fun together.

FYI

Family Music class, Tuesdays, 11 a.m.

Friday Feelings Corner, Fridays, 11 a.m.

Online at facebook.com/twirltaos

Free

twirl@twirltaos.org; (575) 751-1402

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