Play With Your Child: Jim Gill Makes it Easy

| February 17, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Cathy McNulty

I first fell in love with this man’s music about 8 years ago.  I had started my current job as a preschool teacher and a friend had given me my first Jim Gill CD to use in the classroom.  I immediately fell in love with the goofy lyrics, upbeat banjo, and most importantly, the way the songs really pulled the kids into the music.  Each time I play  a song from my Jim Gill CD, the children are all laughing, sneezing, smiling, rhyming, singing, and dancing.  I’ve since acquired all five of his CDs and use them every day at work.   I didn’t realize until just recently that Jim Gill lived near Chicago and performs at schools, libraries, bookstores, or anywhere!

We were lucky enough to have Jim Gill come and visit our primary public school.  My preschool students and I, along with the kindergarten through second grade students, were treated with our very own Jim Gill concert.  As we entered the gymnasium, he started talking with the kids and encouraging them to move up and get a good seat!  Throughout the entire concert he easily kept all 450 students and 30 teachers engaged with his music.  The students (and teachers) were reading, rhyming, dancing, sneezing, singing, “swimming”, marching, clapping, thinking, pretending, and truly enjoying themselves.  My only complaint of the entire concert was that it had to end!

After the concert at work, I decided I needed more!  So I looked up Jim Gill’s “Living Room Tour” schedule and made a date for my 4-year old son and I to go and see him in Naperville, where he performed his latest work, A Soup Opera. As explained on Jim Gill’s website, A Soup Opera is a richly illustrated story about a man, a bowl of soup and the man’s operatic and comically frustrating quest to eat it.   Additional characters in the cast include a chef, a police officer and the President of the United States!  The book is based on a silly concert piece that Jim performs with symphony orchestras throughout the country.” This story is a favorite, both with my son and with the children I work with.  The lyrics are quickly learned and the children love to sing with their “opera voices.”

Before beginning A Soup Opera, Jim Gill performed some favorites from his collection, including my son’s favorite, I Took a Bath in the Washing Machine.  I need to mention that Jim Gill is not your typical performer.  As he was setting up he seemed more than happy to talk with the audience that was gathering in front of him.  During the performance he makes it seem as if the show is not all about him, but rather, all about the children having fun with their families.  Towards the beginning of the show, my son was a little leary about hearing these famaliar songs live.  He was barely dancing and really just watching in awe.  Finally, Jim Gill sang “The Silly Dance Contest” and when he got to the part that goes, “Jump as high as you want to, jump as high as you can, jump as high as you want to, but stop when I say freeze,” my son started jumping and laughing and truly enjoying himself!  Any other performer would have just gone on with the song, but Jim Gill looked right at my son and said, “Let’s do that again!”  The smile on my son’s face couldn’t have been any bigger.

It wasn’t until after this last concert that I realized why I loved Jim Gill’s music so much.  Jim Gill earned his Master’s Degree from the Erikson Institute of Chicago in the area of child development.  He is, at heart, a preschool teacher and an early childhood educator.  I’ve always believed that play is the most important aspect of a young child’s life and as stated on his website, “…his goal has always been to promote active play between adults and children with his music.”  And that is exactly what is accomplished any time I play one of his CDs at home or at work.  It is also exactly what happened at each of the concerts I saw him perform.

There are many ways you can bring Jim Gill into your child’s life.  Whether it’s arranging for him to visit your child’s school, finding a concert nearby, arranging for him to perform his Soup Opera with local symphony orchestra, or purchasing any of his wonderful CDs I can guartentee that you will have a great time playing and singing with your child!

This is an original Chicagonista article.

Cathy McNulty is a part-time teacher and a full-time mom. You can find out more about Cathy at McCathy’s Tub.

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Category: See & Plays

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Cathy McNulty is a part-time teacher and a full-time mom. You can find out more about Cathy at McCathy’s Tub -

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