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Certainly with the workshops we know, if you sing a rowing song songs can be used to support again, and it works for me and
were doing, it got people talking these days, you’re unlikely to be getting to grips with language, they seem to like it -- they then
about that.’ rowing when you’re doing it, and and to reinforce already-learned take it away and do their own
if you’re doing a waulking song language. That repetition, just thing with it. I was thinking about
Getting the parents onside was with tweed, it’s usually a set up. singing wee songs over and over child lore, which is not really
one matter, but what about the But if you’re singing a lullaby to again... even just a phrase. They’ll what I do actually, but for a lot of
children? How might they react? a baby, that’s exactly where that go around repeating a phrase to people, certainly I felt this when
How easy was it to hold their song has come from and that’s themselves over and over -- it’s recording songs for an audience
attention and encourage them to its natural place. That’s a really kind of like practising the sounds, of children, it’s almost not serious
participate? ‘Most of them (the folk music -- you’re just doing
parents) were very open-minded children’s songs. But actually child
and very happy to listen to what
‘If you sing a
lore is one of the most authentic or
you had to say. But there were
rowing song
genuine forms of oral transmission
one or two, who, if their child that we still have. If you tell a joke
didn’t sit still and pay attention, these days, to some children in a playground
they got quite cross with them, in one school, it’s amazing how
and that’s not really where I felt
you’re unlikely to
fast it can spread through the
we were coming from. I felt that it
be rowing when
whole country, and that’s just oral
was my job to make it as fun and transmission working really, really
interesting and unmissable and you’re doing it... fast.’
captivating as possible -- that the
children would just be desperate
but if you’re
I asked Christina what happened
to come and take part, rather than
singing a lullaby
after she had finished working with
telling them they had to sit down the toddler groups. Were there
and be quiet’. Christina saw the
to a baby, that’s
others who were happy to take
marriage of songs with actions as up the mantle and continue to
a key influence in engaging the
exactly where
embed the singing of traditional
children themselves: ‘Certainly I
that song has
song within the toddler groups?
find with some little boys, it helps ‘This is why we wanted to make a
them participate at all. If they
come from and
CD, because the CD originally was
don’t think singing is their thing, as a resource for the group, so
or they’re not used to it at home,
that’s its natural
each group that took part got one.
if it doesn’t happen a lot, if they
place’
There didn’t have to be somebody
didn’t have the actions then they who felt they had to be able to
wouldn’t sit and listen to the song. sing, they could put the CD on
A lot of the actions are based good thing to have in the tradition sometimes even just individual and all just sing along, or even not
on bouncing children up and -- songs being used in their sounds. From the point of view of sing but just do the actions. Quite
down, or from side to side, and natural context’. I asked Christina Gaelic language toddler groups, a few groups have done that,
it’s associated with the rhythm of whether her own upbringing and they’re trying to encourage the they often have it on when they’re
the song, and it kind of highlights her own experience of the tradition children to use their Gaelic more doing an activity like play dough
the rhythm as you go along, so it as a child had any bearing on and a lot of the time the children or planting up seeds or painting
helps them feel that rhythm. Even her approach to this project: that go aren’t coming from Gaelic or something -- they’ll have the
though they can’t sing along, ‘There were just songs around. speaking homes. They’re very CD playing in the background and
they can bounce along so they’re Thinking about the whole aspect aware of trying to encourage the children will spontaneously
participating even before they’re of traditional songs being a part of the children to get their tongues just start singing. We had one or
really old enough to actively the general culture -- I didn’t think around it, and hear the songs over two groups where they waited
participate. It’s meant to be about of it as being a specialist topic. and over again. They’re looking for the toddler group facilitator
entertaining children and giving I can remember going away on for anything that can help them to come back before they sang
them a taste of something... it is camp once and we all had to do a along the way and the songs are any of the songs as a group, and
cultural, it is appropriate culture turn, so I just stood up and sang a very useful for that, just the way other groups, where maybe a
for small children’ Gaelic song and then somebody they’re structured.’ confident member of the group
else stood up and did Video Killed has taken on that role and said
Within these projects, Christina The Radio Star, and others would With regards to the upholding of “right, I’m going to lead singing,”
not only recognises the benefits to tell a joke or something. It was the tradition, Christina feels that even if it’s only for ten minutes
the children, but also the benefits just something you did, amongst working with children provides the instead of forty minutes. Some of
to the tradition about which lots of other things that you did, most natural environment for oral the groups, particularly where they
she is so passionate. Lullabies and you didn’t really think of it as transmission, in the absence of have a member of staff supporting
and children’s songs offers a being something precious to be any preconceptions or the need the group, very often they’ve
rare opportunity to introduce preserved or anything like that, to make sense or understand taken that on, to encourage the
traditional repertoire into a most it was just something that was what it is they’re learning. ‘When parents, because they saw how
natural setting, without the need always around. That to me is the I’m doing workshops with young the children got on with it. It’s
to contrive, and avoiding the way it should be -- if it’s part of children, and increasingly now lovely when children were coming
museum mentality that might your culture, I think it should just older children, I don’t really bother along saying “I want to sing this
afflict other aspects of tradition. be around and taken for granted with written words at all, because or I want to sing that,” even the
‘It’s quite interesting that people in some ways.’ it’s grown ups who like written ones who couldn’t speak would
have a feeling for tradition and words. Children can’t be bothered do an action to request a song
they really enjoy it... but it doesn’t Naturally, the project incorporated with them and don’t need them, -- and that’s great that they’re that
necessarily come into their lives some traditional Gaelic songs they actually just listen -- it goes enthusiastic.’ q
on a daily basis. I like to think of and Christina highlighted the in and they remember it. Then
good strong musical tradition as importance of song as a means they move on and adapt it and The Kist O’ Dreams web site
being something that just is there, to support a child’s language do their own thing with it, and (www.kistodreams.org) has details
not something you have to go to a development, particularly when it’s really a vibrant form of oral of all the songs that Christina
concert to here, or a Fèis to learn. that child is part of a bilingual transmission -- that’s really where recorded as part of this project on
That’s one of the really nice things environment, a facet that found the authentic stuff’s happening, I the two albums, Kist O’ Dreams
about working with lullabies and much support, particularly in see it happening on a daily basis. and Bairn’s Kist, alongside further
then with toddlers -- that is exactly the Gaelic toddler groups. ‘I What I do is, I steal from child lore details of the various projects in
what these songs are for. You think they are very aware of how and give it back to the children which Christina was involved.
The Living Tradition - Page 1
Issue80.indd 61 14/7/08 14:56:05
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