Share on Google+

Little Musicians in the Making

There is nothing in the world like the sound of my little boy singing. He has a delightful little voice, and he works out the words with mastery and a little improvisation, too. My sweet little crooner, not yet three. For the past six months, Christmas songs have been his obsession. He has mastered the first two verses of the Grinch song, although he sometimes forgets the first, or mixes the two. Quite often he just nails it, punching out phonetically tricky phrases like ‘You’re as charming as a cactus. You’re as cuddly as an eel. Mr. Griiiii-iiiiinch. You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peelllll.” This is his one dark song- where he gets to wax the villain. But mostly he seems fond of bright songs with happy lines, like “Frosty the snowman, was a jolly happy soul…all the children know…” Or the Who’s singing down in Whoville…”Bom, bom, Christmas, bring your heart…[and sometimes light]…I get a little tingly feeling when he sings that lovely line…bring your heart…yes, bring your heart indeed. 

Cayce is now adding some wonderful new songs to his repertoire, thanks to the free music classes taught buy an extraordinary gift to our community, Marcia Hempel, at the Nantucket Atheneum.  I am so grateful to be seeing our way past the holiday themes. Last week, Cayce stood at his workbench in the living room after class, singing, “I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star. I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.”

Marcia Hempel has been bringing her musical talents to our community for many years.  I met her doing musical theater, where her talents were often sought, but she also directed the choir at the Unitarian Church for many years, as well as the Nantucket Women’s Chorus.  Marcia continues to lend her gifts to our island’s children through classes she teaches at the Lighthouse School, the Nantucket Community Music Center, as well as her free classes offered to the public at the Nantucket Atheneum.

This week Cayce has conquered another tongue twister…the alligator song.  Although he sometimes supplants the monkeys with a fish in the water or children in a tree, he sings most of the lines in perfect rhythm. “One little girl sitting in a tree/ Teasing Mr. Alligator/ Can’t catch me/ Along came the alligator/ Quiet as can be/ And SNAP.” The song is done with hand motions, where you make your thumb and fingers into snapping jaws, which is part of what makes it so appealing to children. It’s a counting song, where you count backwards, holding up the number of monkeys or children or fish in the tree with your fingers, decreasing by one as each is devoured by the hungry alligator.

Marcia’s classes incorporate a lot of movement, as well as story telling into the music. They reinforce physical coordination, as well as vocal skills, while also fostering imaginary play.  The children learn to work within a structured environment. But then afterwards, if they are not checking out books, many of them enjoy hanging out in the garden together, climbing trees and playing tag while the parents chat among the apple blossoms. 

I just can’t say enough good things about Marcia Hempel’s music classes. My little guy’s got the music in him. I've been singing to him since we came home from the hospital. It was in part how I entertained myself through the early days [and weeks and months] home with the baby. But it quickly became a way to soothe him, too. So my unrealized dreams of becoming a rock star have become manifest through my child.  We used to be a constantly crooning duet, but now he directs me to stop singing so he can show off in solo.

Marcia Hempel's classes have really cultivated my son's love of music, and all his wee friends seem to love it just as much.  After a morning with her he goes back out into the world, bringing his voice and his heart.    


What a wonderful opportunity! Sounds like you and your son really benefit not only from the lessons, but from the community experience! I am glad to hear about this and will tell some friends who summer in Nantucket with their children to check it out! Thank you for sharing!

Rachel Dowling's picture

Sounds great, Kerry. And I will continue posting about the abundance of opportunities available for kids during the summer on Nantucket, so keep your eye out.  Feel free to share the link if your friends are on facebook or twitter, as well. :D

Thank you for sharing your gift of writing Rachel. I 'd take my kids to a similar music/singing class when they were little. I'm so impressed with Cayce's language abilities at his young age. He's no doubt loving the musical environment. keep writing. !!!