Archive for August, 2010

One of my favorite parts of improvisation is making up songs.  And parenting offers many opportunities to make up songs with your small people.

Now many, many folks are naturally drawn to make up songs to babies and then get a wee bit self-conscious as their kids get older.  Part 1 of this series of posts will focus on some warm-ups that can get you into (or back into) a singing groove.

1) Sing what you would say

Or to use the fancy opera word — use recitative.  Yup, sung speech. Doesn’t get more simple than that. (And if you like that…you can get dramatic and move into playing with your voice to create an aria. Imagine singing out “It’s time for dinner! Time for dinner! Time for dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner….diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeer!”)

2) Take a favorite song and alter a few words:

Twinkle, twinkle, little book

How I long to take a look

I wish I could read you now

I’d even read you to a cow

Twinkle, twinkle, little book

How I long to take a look

(I sing this as I look longingly at my library books…and read LP another round of hers)

When you feel comfortable with that, keep the whole tune but make up all new words.

OR use the tune and replace it with all animal noises.

3) Use karaoke music tracks and sing your own words to them (this is particularly great with music you don’t know)

4) Make up one sentence and see how many different ways you can sing it…as a country western song, a blues song, punk rock, and so on and so on and so on.

This post is part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at SteadyMom.

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Yes, yes, yes! The City of Emeryville Guide is out and it is official. I’ll be teaching two classes there this Fall. Both classes — Improvisation & Personal Development and Playtime for Parents — are inspired by the work of parenting and improvising these past few years.

Here’s all the info including how to register:

Improvisation and Personal Development

This fun and interactive one-day class will explore how the practice of improvisation increases confidence, optimism and interpersonal skills. Join in this one-day journey of personal exploration through improv and rediscover how your creativity can transform your life. No prior improv experience is necessary and shy people are welcome.

Class# 1367

Date: Saturday, September 25th

Time: 10am -5pm

Location: Emeryville Recreation Center

Cost: $125

Playtime for Parents

Parents often hear about the importance of play, yet sometimes feel uncomfortable jumping into action with their children. This two-part class for parents uses improvisation to create a safe and lively environment to explore play. Have fun in class and take home new ways to engage your children.

Dates: Sundays October 3rd and 10th

(there is a misprint in the Emeryville Activity Guide…above are the correct dates)

Time: 1-4pm

Location: Emeryville Recreation Center

Cost: $80

Register for classes through the City of Emeryville

Link for Fall 2010 Activity Guide


From this page, you can get to Online Registration.  Search for classes by Activity Number. Improvisation & Personal Development is #1367. Playtime for Parents is #1368.

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LP was a horse named Jack today. All day long.

She played being a horse. She did art as a horse, explored a creek as a horse, planted seeds as a horse and ate meals as a horse. She ate pretend horse meals as well. LP spoke like a horse and she spoke about horses.  A rock was a curry brush and pebbles were her oats. After dinner, she had a horse bath and put on a “horse blanket” (pajamas).  Then she wanted some grain.

Unsuspecting Improvamama filled a metal mixing bowl with many pieces of lego.

LP screamed, “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!   THIS IS NOT GRAIN! THIS IS SQUARE LEGOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


Fortunately, my little horse was open to the suggestion of eating a pre-bedtime cracker instead.

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LP’s favorite thing in our wee garden this year has been the carrots.

Unfortunately, most days she does not want to eat the carrots (and does not want anyone else to eat the carrots).  I’m really not sure why because this girl will eat anything that she can pick herself — tomatoes and peas, of course but also radishes, kale, and okra.  For whatever reason, she’s decided that the carrots are to play with and not to eat. There has been more than one meltdown when I wanted take a carrot or two to use for dinner. Our friend T who was visiting for a few days had coaxed her into eating a carrot and there was much added pleasure in the carrot experience.

Until she picked this one.

I was excited about it. Look at it!  It is totally cool! I was all ready to jump into exploring the way the five carrots had grown together. LP pretty much shrugged and was ready to move on to something else all together.

I was puzzled.  I watched her play with other things while T and I marveled at it and took a bunch of photos.  She did make her way over to us and then took the carrot off for her own exploration…and eventual snack.

I wonder what her thought process was. My best guess is that she had an expectation of what was going to come out of the ground and when that expectation was not correct, she needed a little time to regroup and let the expectation go. She needed time to be able to say “yes” to the unusual carrot.

When I think about the experience in that frame, I feel so empathetic because even at my best, I have trouble switching gears when I have strong expectations.  Even when I really, really, really want to say “yes” because the new, unexpected thing looks fun or delicious or intriguing, I need time to make an internal shift.

It was a great reminder for me to not push too hard or fast when I think something is “interesting.”  The wacky carrots were still wacky and wonderful 15 minutes later.

This post is part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at SteadyMom.

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