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A Song is a Rainbow

Date: 1982
Author: Patty Zeitlin
Foreword by: Fred Rogers
Publisher: Good Year Books
ISBN: 9780673164605
Purchase: Amazon (Paperback)



Even if you think you can't carry a tune or play an instrument, and the thought of teaching music to a group of energetic young children makes you want to head stright for the door ... This book is for you!

With gentle good humor and wisdom, Patty Zeitlin, educator and professional musician, guides you through music programs for children ages 2-5. She calms your fears about the pitfalls (like teacher's "stage fright" and unruly children) and introduces you to the pleasures of music programs (like the first time a "spectator only" child joins the singing -- with gusto).

Some of the special features include:

  • Words and music for over 50 tunes (some the author's own compositions)
  • Ideas and instructions for using rhythm instruments
  • Information on how to choose appropriate music for children; music that will encourage self-expression and build self-esteem
  • An extensive bibliography and discography
  • Interviews with Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, Marcia Berman and Malvina Reynolds, all performers for children


Foreword by Fred Rogers:

A Song Is A Rainbow is not simply a book about music. It is about children as well. It touches upon the joys, the disappointments, the fears, the fantasies, the real and the imagined friends of children as they pass through the various seasons of childhood. "A Song Is A Rainbow" is a useful sourcebook for parents and teachers alike. It provides songs for many of the moods and moments which occur in the life of the young child.

In nature, growth takes place in fertile ground. For the young child the most important fertile ground for growth is trust -- trust that one's needs will be met in a consistent and on­going way. Yet growth is oftentimes painful and frightening. As children begin to expand their circle of relationships, they do so slowly and with some reticence. As these new people become more familiar and "worthy of trust" children's fear decreases and a growing interest in exploring the immediate environment and the larger world emerges. Healthy children eventually discover that they can master new situations and that exploring can be both exciting and rewarding.

Patty Zeitlin's work provides nourishment and encouragement for the task of growth and development by helping the child to discover through song and movement the strength that lies within each person. Through song the innermost thoughts and fantasies of the child can find expression. Song can become both the play and the work of the child. Through the playful and spontaneous connections of words and sounds new creations are born. Ptolemy was certain that the earth was at the center of things. Copernicus thought it possible that the sun be at that center. Likewise, Beethoven thought it possible that the classical rules of harmony might not fully summarize the territory of music. In this way, every child is a potential Copernicus or Beethoven in his or her learning to order the world. The child is willing to take the risk of combining the real with the unreal in often creative and unexpected ways. Bridges can be built between the possible and the actual.

While Patty Zeitlin's book provides many examples of songs to be used with children individually or in groups, the focus of the book is to help children to express their own thoughts and feelings through song.

Of course, there is a healthy respect for the silent moment as well. Not every minute of a child's day should be filled with words or movement. The task of childhood involves both learning to speak and learning to listen, learning to sing and learning to hear!

Knowing children and encouraging them to become who they really are has the added benefit of encouraging the child in each of us to reawaken to the possibilities around us and to find again our own rainbow ... our own song.

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Corner image by Spencer Fruhling. Used with permission.
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