As Center Director of a child care center that has had the good fortune of having Mr. Pete as a part of its program, it is with great pleasure that I share my observations.
Long before the parents ever meet “Mr. Pete” they know all about him. They know the songs he sings, the inflections in his voice, and the enthusiasm he brings to every group with which he works. The parents acquire this information, not from the newsletter articles, or the program description. They experience this information through their children. Even the youngest toddlers that share some time with Pete, glow with excitement when he begins his “Good Morning” song. Many of the children, who do not recall the activities of the day, remember in vivid detail the songs, excitement, and fun they had during music time with “Mr. Pete.” His songs can be heard throughout the building hours and days after his last class for the week. Parents who have never met Pete, tell me time and time again, how much their children love him. They tell me that the kids sing his songs over and over again, using emotion, inflection, and animation ‘just like Mr. Pete.”
As I walk through the building on music days, I feel touched by the interactions I witness. Children who might otherwise be shy and reserved can be seen eagerly participating in a “Let’s Pretend” activity. Little ones who barely speak watch and listen with wide eyes, as they try so hard to mimic the sounds they hear and the hand motions he demonstrates. Excitement explodes when he gets to the chorus, and the lines they can repeat. With the older children, the room comes alive during Mr. Pete time. Many of the children keep their eyes glued to his fingers, to try to figure out how he gets the guitar to make those sounds! Others wait eagerly for the “funny” voices Pete makes when emphasizing a word or line from their favorite tune. When it’s time for movement, I watch with amusement as the children crawl around like snakes for “Let’s Pretend” or “Stop, Drop and Roll” as the song instructs.
Every time Pete interacts with a group of children, it is clearly obvious that he loves his ‘job.” He approaches each song and activity with a wide smile, a lilt in his voice and enthusiasm that is contagious to the children and teachers alike. Pete not only plays music and sings with the children. He listens to them, respects their ideas and suggestions, and helps to build their self-esteem through unconditional acceptance of their individuality. He builds and understanding and appreciation for music, as well as enhancing listening skills, by offering hands-on activities with instruments and by introducing various styles and types of music.
It is with a great deal of pride and anticipation that I await the release of Pete’s music on CD. I am proud that I have been around to share the enthusiasm and appreciation for music and learning that he brings every time he walks into the building. I am sure there will not be a child out there who will not feel the joy, amusement, and excitement that his music and lyrics bring.
Pete is an inspiration to myself and the teachers, as educators. He is a positive role model for the children with whom he shares his love and enjoyment of music, learning, and fun!