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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Last Friday morning, Deb Hudgins performed a Thanksgiving themed concert on the top floor of the Sherborn Community Center. With many children having been walked over from a local school, the crowd was treated to a nonstop collection of songs, stories and interactive games - all based around the theme of “Thanksgiving: sharing caring and family.”
Hudgins first sang the “Hello Song” before teaching the kids the sign language of “The More We Get Together.” Then, Hudgins read the children Julie Morris’ story, “Thanks for Thanksgiving,” as well as the story “All for Pie, Pie for All.”
Hudgins wanted to get the kids moving, so she invited them to grab a musical instrument (maraca, triangle, tambourine or clacker) with the implicit instructions to “shake ‘em, don’t break ‘em.” Hudgins actually had more instruments, such as shape drums, that she thought were too loud for the room and its inherent echoes.
Then, the kids grabbed paper plates and matched Hudgins’ rhythmic clapping and movements as they marched around the room. If that sounds like a lot of activity for an hour-long kid’s show, it was. Hudgins deserves credit for keeping the children moving so that they didn’t get bored, while sneaking in some learning disguised within her program.
Hudgins has been performing for children for over forty years, so it’s not surprising she has figured out the best way to structure a show. While it may seem random to an outside observer, Hudgins explained that she mixes quiet and loud, active and passive to teach the kids how to be good audience members.
“I think kids are just kids, and they enjoy having plenty to do, so I always have a lot for my programs,” she explained. “I had things I didn’t even get to, because you have to keep it going. I like things to regroup. I mix loud things with quiet things so that they can settle and learn good audience skills and listening skills. I try to teach things without their knowing they’re being given a lesson. For instance, when I was speaking about sound, I showed the vibration and that if they played the triangle on their leg or held it tightly, it won’t sound as well as if they used the spoon with one finger holding it, so that it would vibrate more.”
Many of her techniques were subtle enough to be missed, if you weren’t paying close attention. For example, every time Hudgins stopped playing music or wanted the kids to stop playing the music, she would use the choral hand motions, rather than just telling them to stop.
“I’ve been involved in choirs and choruses all my life, so I like to use proper techniques for stopping. I do the signals for stopping, singing and quieting voices so they do learn a lot about pitch and tempo, and it’s wonderful for learning to read. It also helps kids to develop, so it’s really fun and important.”