A Crafting Series
By: Jill Stockburger
Beloved Mr. Rogers is often quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.”
Fred Rogers also gave insight into his own ways of healing and understanding; ways that can be utilized right now, “Music was my first language. I was afraid to use words, but I could show how I felt by how I used the piano. I could laugh or cry or be very angry through the ends of my fingers.”
Music is a gift, and if you think about it, a narrative that shapes some of our earliest memories. Listening to music lowers anxiety and stress levels. Music enhances feelings of connectedness and modifies negative emotions; it helps us identify and put words to our emotions helping us self-regulate. Music is a tool that helps expand our self-awareness while allowing us to relate to others’ experiences by building empathy, trust, and cooperation through our brain circuits. Singing releases oxytocin, a brain chemical that increases bonding between people and decreases stress. Music can even match biological processes of entrainment through rhythms within community that supports brain rehabilitation, improves movement functions, sensorimotor skills, and has the potential to help restore the immune system!
So, now that you have let me totally geek out over music, let’s put it into practice, play, or both in our homes…
Supplies: Paper (large butcher paper to small sheets), markers, crayons, colored pencil, paint, or oil pastels, even just sidewalk chalk and a inviting space. Music.
Ages: All of them.
Exercise: Ask your child which songs they like to listen to when 1) they feel sad or need comfort 2) they feel happy or want an energy boost 3) they feel angry or need an energy release. Feel free to use any three descriptors of experience that fit your family and to the adults, get the juices flowing if needed by modeling with a song of your choice first.
Listen to the songs one experience at a time.
After you listen to the song, create a physical outline of your body on a large piece of butcher paper or on the ground with sidewalk chalk. If the large scale is not available, draw a body outline on a smaller piece of paper. The larger option just integrates more body movement.
After creating the body outline, listen to the song again, visually drawing how you experience the song in your body in and around the body outline.
Do this through each of your three experiences.
Feel free to do another round of listening if you want to get your dance party on!
And, just think you could compile a family playlist of this new musical collection.
Fun fact: Dame Gillian Barbara Lynne was a young girl who was underperforming at school, fidgeted constantly, and had challenges focusing. Her mother took her to a doctor. After meeting with both Gillian and her mother, he asked to speak to Gillian’s mother privately for a moment. He turned on the radio as they walked out and encouraged her mother to look at her. She was dancing. Lynne’s mother placed her in dance school and that same little girl would later become known as the choreographer of Cats.