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The City Journals

Giggles and Wiggles at Kid Concert

Apr 08, 2016 10:33AM ● By Mylinda LeGrande

By Mylinda LeGrande | [email protected]

West Jordan - On March 4, children gathered in the auditorium at the Viridian Library. They thought they were simply having fun with their parents, but this family-style concert was actually a valuable learning experience in disguise. Families got the rare opportunity to see performer Jim Gill up close to listen to music and stories while participating in singing and interactive fun. 

The librarian in charge was Anna Zanarini.

“He emailed us and said he’d be back in town and asked if I’d be interested in his program. I said ‘for sure’; we aren’t going to say no to him. I estimate there are 400 to 500 people here. It is a great turn out — we are super excited,” she said.

He presents his “concerts of play” at libraries and community events throughout the country. In addition, he also conducts workshops to early childhood educators and children’s librarians.

Some of the songs he performed at this event were “Jumping and Counting,” “The Silly Dance Contest,” “Alabama Mississippi,” “Spin Again,” “I Took a Bath in a Washing Machine,” “Doe Ray Me on My Toe Leg Me” and “A Soup Opera.” In 2010, his newest book, “A Soup Opera,” was named a “Notable Children’s Book and Recording” by the American Library Association. 

Lynette More came with her husband, Jeremy, and kids Kemmer, 6, Stormy, 9, and Ivy, 4. 

“We came to see him once before when he was at Wheeler Farm three or four years ago. Then we saw a flyer a few days at the library. I remembered we’d seen this guy before and knew my four-year old would love it. My kids seem like they are loving it,” she said.

According to his website, Jim Gill has a unique approach to his concerts for young children and families. This is because his graduate studies in child development have convinced him that family play is more important to young children than music alone, whether the music is classical, folk or rock and roll.

Megan Wander came with her husband, Austin, and children: daughter Lexi, 3, and son Ben, 8 months. She said, “I really like Raffi [another children’s musician], so when I saw [Jim Gill] was coming, I looked him up on YouTube. I saw he was a big deal. My daughter loves music and to dance.” 

While Wander was being interviewed, her husband, Austin, came out of the auditorium and laughed as he said, “I’m getting a workout in there.”

Each of Jim’s concerts is an active sing-along and clap-along. He bangs out energetic rhythms on his banjo while everyone claps, jumps, dances and even sneezes along. The concert is filled with songs and stories from Jim’s award-winning recordings and books for young children.

Jim’s approach is beyond the music. According to his website, “Jim’s true art is to create a joyful musical experience for children and parents together. Every concert becomes part of Jim’s ongoing Family Room Tour where Jim’s music play creates a family room in each concert hall, library or school auditorium he visits.”

Gill holds a master’s degree in child development from the Erikson Institute of Chicago and spent 20 years directing weekly programs in music and movement play in the Chicago area.

“During the best concerts, the children are watching and playing along with the adults in the audience as much as they are watching me,” Gill said. “I lead the games, but the children are most likely to remember the joy of their family play.”

He commented on Facebook about this event. He said, “Many thanks to the Salt Lake County Library for inviting me to lead a concert last night for about 400 children, parents and grandparents that were ready to sing and play along. Thanks to the children’s library staff for sharing my music and books during story times and introducing so many families to my songs over the years.”