The buzz…

Zoom Zoom Zoom With Bumblebee - By Melissa Eilers

My last day teaching face-to-face classes was in late March and I very sadly packed up my cupboards at my Glen Iris venue not knowing how long it would be until I would open those doors again. One week later I was back at Glen Iris packing instruments and puppets and anything I would need into my car to set up my little classroom at home to begin doing Mini Maestros on Zoom! These classes are the absolute highlight of my week. I am able to see my beautiful students and their mummies and daddies, and even some grandparents and nannies. I’ve also made some new friends as more mini maestros have started doing online classes.

Setting up Zoom was a little challenging for me as I am definitely not technologically wired but with a little help from my friends, I found Zoom is actually very user- friendly and now I wonder what I was making such a song and dance about. Any excuse to sing and dance! Our big chocolate-brown border collie, Hunter, has become a regular visitor to some classes. He waits outside my classroom door hoping we will sing ‘Bow Wow Wow’ or ‘Doggie, Doggie Where’s Your Bone?’ so that he can have his few minutes of fame. He usually steals the show, but if he would just woof in time with the music I’d really appreciate it. Some dogs just want all the limelight! 

Face-to-face classes will always be my preference, but every day I see magical moments on my screen. Children that weren’t quite ready to sing hello to Bumblebee in class are suddenly very comfortable to sing solo from their own lounge room. It’s a beautiful thing to witness a child singing hello with their Bumblebee for the first time, whether it’s in-person or on the screen.  The joy and pride on their face is priceless. Playing peekaboo has to be everyone’s favourite and seeing the children pop out from their peekaboo scarves or even a tea towel is so adorable! 

We have had a few dress-up classes and I certainly had to be creative to put together a costume using whatever I could find at home. Of course, I had to dress up as bumblebee with black leggings and homemade bumblebee antennae. My yellow stripes were courtesy of some yellow electrical tape. It’s amazing what you can discover in the garage and the children didn’t mind that most of my yellow stripes travelled south to my ankles after some energetic dancing. We had a ball!

Pyjama day was lots of fun! What a good excuse to stay in pj’s for the day! When the children came into class I was ‘asleep’ on some pillows on the floor, peeking out to watch their reactions. Suddenly I heard little voices saying, “Wake up, wake up 'Lissa!”. It was hilarious and very hard not to laugh out loud, and the mums played along saying, “Shhh, she’s asleep”. The little voices got louder and louder until I heard, “WAKE UP!” After a few yawns and stretches and lots of laughing we started class.

It’s been wonderful to see the different musical instruments children have at home and, even more so, the homemade instruments that are being used in classes. Wooden spoons and plastic bowls make great drums and containers of dried rice and pasta for maracas. Saucepan lids for cymbals are nice and loud, so occasionally the mute button comes in handy. One little student taps her wooden spoon on the mantelpiece. I kept wondering why she was disappearing only to find out that she loves the sound it makes.

The older children love dancing with Funkey Monkey who wears red underpants. Sadly, Funkey Monkey is also in lockdown in my cupboard at Glen Iris so hopefully, we will see him soon. In the song, Funkey Monkey uses his banana as a microphone. I happen to have a plastic banana at home to show the children which they think is very funny. Halfway through the dance, I see one child has gone to the fruit bowl and is very happily peeling and eating a banana while mum is dancing around him. We all laughed so much.

We have even had a Zoom birthday party as one of my beautiful students was turning five! Mum emailed to let me know that her daughter was very excited her birthday was on ‘Mini Maestros day’! With a little bit of organisation her friends came to class wearing party hats and mum had a cupcake with 5 candles and a sparkler which was a very special added touch. We all watched the sparkler and sang happy birthday and it was almost like being there! Birthday girl got to eat her birthday cake before we started singing hello to Bumblebee whilst playing our chimebars.  We had a very special time with everyone choosing their favourite Mini Maestros activities. Lots of dancing and laughter and fun!

I am so looking forward to being back at Glen Iris doing in-person classes, but in the meantime I love zooming with Bumblebee and my little Mini Maestros. Tomorrow one of my classes wants to do dress-up day again. I’ve used all of my yellow electrical tape so there won’t be any bumblebee stripes this time......

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