If the music at your kids’ sing-along group has you groaning about having yet another repetitive song stuck in your head, get yourself over to check out Little Folkies, a singing program that’s new to the Portland area. This San Francisco-to-Portland music group is perfect for both you and your kid’s sing-along needs. If you need some songs to sing around the campfire or in the car, that you will enjoy hearing on repeat read on!

photo credit: Little Folkies, Kayla Fletcher

What is it?
Focusing on movement, finger-play, and joyful expression, Little Folkies is an acoustic musical class that will get your little one jamming. The easy to learn songs incorporate call and response and whole body movement like stomping and clapping games, believing that a positive musical experience is important for young minds. Just watch the kids light up when the basket of shakers come out!

Photo Credit: Little Folkies

photo: Little Folkies, Kayla Fletcher

Why folk music?
Irena Eide, who has composed many of the Little Folkies songs, started the class in San Francisco in 2009. Bored of teaching regular songs at other schools, Eide started digging into American folk music from the past, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and became inspired by an entire realm of old obscure songs going back to the country’s roots. She began her new classes based on the idea that music should be interesting for kids and adults. “We’ve had parents say they sing the songs at home, listen to the music in the car and all over the place. It’s not something I’ve heard from other places,” Eide says.

Photo Credit: Little Folkies

photo: Little Folkies, Kayla Fletcher

Who’s it for?
The classes are targeted for babies and toddlers ages 0-5, along with their caregivers. All are welcome. “I had a six week old once. That was awesome!” says Kelly McFarling, who is starting the Portland sessions. The classes encourage participation from everyone, including adults. There is a lot of silliness: there is no wrong way to enjoy music! Eide says some of her favorite moments have been watching the parents open up. “They will come in shy, having experienced musical trauma in the past, but our classes are so welcome and open. There is no such thing as a bad voice!”

photo: Little Folkies, Kayla Fletcher

Who’s it taught by in Portland?
McFarling and her banjo are offering a class for now, with more to be added later. Warm and engaging with an easy-going style, she’s a well-known musician in her own right. She has performed folk music for years around the Bay Area and is in Portland recording with local band Y La Bamba, as well as training teachers for more Little Folkies classes.

About the classes
Each class is 40 minutes of engaging songs and happy kids dancing around.  CDs with the class songs and booklets are offered so you can take the fun times home. Participants can sign up for a whole semester for$255 or choose drop-in classes at their convenience. Drop-in classes cost  $230 for a 10 class pass or $25 per class. Little Folkies is offering classes at Spielwerk Toys. For a class schedule visit theme here online.

Spielwerk Toys
3808 N Williams Ave #121, between Fremont & Skidmore
503-282-2233
Online: Littlefolkies.com

What is your favorite song to sing with your kids? Share with us in the comments below.

— Katrina Emery