If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. Good. Now that’s out of the way and you can try something new: music classes at Stomp and Shout Chicago. Read on to hear why you should add this to your early childhood bucket list.
Classes (for ages six months to 4 years) aren’t your usual song and dance. That’s because they introduce a music curriculum that’s unique in Chicago. It’s called Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals and it grabs influences from rock, blues, folk, jazz and pop. Lyrics focus on life in the city and are an edgy change from the norm.
The program was started 17 years ago by a Brooklyn dad and has been featured on Nick Jr. and Noggin. It’s coming to Chicago thanks to Stomp and Shout owner and teacher Cassie Slater, a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Each session gets kids singing and moving to original music that explores urban sights and sounds. The song “Wake Up City” talks about the rumble of the subway, the opening of a coffee shop in the morning, and the thrill of running through the park. Kids chant and shake rhythm sticks to replicate the downtown thrum. In “Taxi,” a ditty about riding in the back of a cab, kids mimic the movements of rolling windows up and down and putting money through the slot.
Puppets and shakers add verve to the melodies. Kids are encouraged to stand up, sit down and move their bodies in all sorts of ways. Toward the end of each class, there’s a jam session; Cassie brings out drums and other instruments and encourages everyone to let it rip. It all ends with a lullaby with the lights dimmed.
Classes are mixed-age, which helps young and old socialize and learn from each other. They take place in two local yoga studios that are clean and simple with little distractions — just a blanket spread on the floor to make everyone comfy. Parents stay for the duration of class and get lost in the music just like the kids do.
Cassie’s ultimate goal is to start a preschool and Kindergarten program in creative dramatics and music. Until then, little ones will be enlightened by Stomp and Shout’s 45-minute classes, which run for eight-week sessions starting September 9 (prorated classes are available for late starters). Free trial classes are offered, so you can get a taste of things.
It will rock your world.
Stomp and Shout Chicago
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Karlie Sherman Photography / Courtesy of Stomp and Shout Chicago