Laura Jordan’s enchanting voice entices everyone within earshot. I first heard it on a recent Tuesday when I sat in on the first of Jordan’s four-week series, Little Bird Music, hosted at the West Tisbury library. Parents and kids ages 2 and up were seated in a circle. For the next half-hour, Jordan guided the group through singing, movement, word association, and dramatic play exercises.
Kids took turns acting out the actions of an animal that hops, or waving translucent colorful scarves while singing “Follow the Rainbow.” Parents eagerly participated alongside Jordan and the kids.
From the start, Jordan set a warm and inviting tone. She addressed each child at eye level, and greeted them by name. She remembered every name, even as the group grew from seven families to 14.
Some kids were jumping with delight and racing around the room from beginning to end. Others sat quietly on their parent’s lap, mesmerized by the action around them. Jordan assured everyone that there was no right or wrong way to participate.
She seamlessly moved the class along, facilitating a structured session with a free-flowing energy, allowing space “for magic to happen in the moment,” she said. “[I] encourage [the children] to express themselves in whatever shape or form that feels natural to them.”
Later, reflecting on the first classes, Jordan said, “Though I prepare a list of ideas, I will extend a song if I notice a few children started to join in right as I was about to switch things up. Yesterday, there were a few little ones who had just stood up as I was going to slow things
down, so I went with another upbeat song in the moment. I always make sure to do a little bit of everything, even if all of the children are not participating. Many of them need to see or hear things a few times before being a part of it. In the dramatic play class, the scarves helped a couple of them open up. And in the first class, I made a little girl smile by hiding behind the scarf and peeking out while singing. I had never done that before, but I was just trying things in the moment, hoping to connect with her before the end of the first class. So, we will start from there next week.”
Little Bird is relatively new, but Jordan shared that it’s been a long time coming, as she has been singing and working with children for many years. “I was a preschool teacher in New York, where I developed a French language and music program,” Jordan said. “I moved to the Island two years ago with my husband and our now 2-and-a-half-year-old son.”
Jordan’s website states, “Her focus in working with children through music is to allow them to experience it in a way that feels natural for them, drawing out their personalities over time while building self-confidence and letting each child shine.”
Jordan explained her method in more detail: “My favorite part about teaching is observing and being part of how each child experiences it as an individual. Some children start singing right away, even if they don’t know the song. Others start to dance or smile or look around the room at everyone, trying to figure out how they feel. Another child will only participate if I don’t look directly at him,” Jordan said. “One girl [might] be able to slowly push past her shyness for one particular song that must really speak to her, because I know she finds it hard. Her best friend [might] sing right out, and tells me stories between songs. I make sure she gets to sing a solo for a refrain. I feel that it’s up to me draw each child in on their own terms, and build on what they have and learn about who they are; to connect with them, even if it takes time. I want the children to feel safe and valued so that they can grow and try new things and thrive. [I’m asking myself,] at this moment, how are they expressing themselves and how can I foster that? I’m really interested in the individual development of each child.”
Jordan continued, “I know that my approach to teaching (music and everything else) has changed and evolved, as I’ve learned from friends and from my mom and sister, who are both teachers, and definitely from being a mom myself; and from the children I work with, of course. I’m open to being in the moment, and that is where the magic happens.”
West Tisbury library classes will meet Jan. 22 and 29. The 11-to-11:30-am class is open to as many people who want to come, all ages welcome. No signup required. Jordan will also continue offering drop-in classes in Edgartown on Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 am through Feb. 22. ($10 suggested donation per class). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.