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By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Before the snow started falling on Tuesday afternoon, February 12, the community room of the Needham Public Library was ringing loudly with a musical cacophony of ukulele strings, improvised percussion pieces, and the singing voices of children and parents alike.
Undeterred by the impending inclement weather, a full group of families turned out to participate in the library’s monthly “Sing with Sarah” program, an instrumental sing-along intended to teach kids the fundamentals of music-making in a group setting. The morning session was focused on kids ages 2 to 5 years old, with a second class focused on ages 0-2 following.
Standing in the front of the room, local musician Sarah Gardner strummed her Taylor guitar while singing with a smile through a microphone headset that broadcast her voice over the joyful din of the room. Sarah sang and played songs like “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” and “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” swaying back and forth as she did and capturing kid’s attention with her humor and stage theatrics.
In the crowd, a sea of children jumped about, rattling maracas and tambourines, strumming as best they could at the nylon strings of colorful ukuleles, and clapping and singing along to the songs they knew.
One of Sarah’s goals is to teach children that music can be found everywhere, and she drove this point home by introducing a set of improvised drums made out of empty cookie dough containers, which were banged upon gleefully with wooden kitchen spoons.
“It’s all about timing,” Sarah explained while strumming. “In music, you can get the right notes, but if you don’t get the timing, it doesn’t sound like the song.”
Driving the point home, Sarah then launched into a number that went along the lines of “Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon / Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’ll get there soon,” which shifted back and forth from a racing tempo to a slow, drawn-out crawl.
The energy in the room was not only audible, but palpable in the air. Sarah has a way of exciting kids into activity, and making sure they learn from it as they go.