“I throw my hands up in the air sometimes saying, ‘Ayo, gotta let go,’” the group of second-graders sang, laughing and waving their arms over their heads as their weekly music lesson came to a close.
Cordova native Cindy Laing, an accomplished performer and music instructor, developed the curriculum for the Walker County Arts Alliance’s in-school music program.
The lessons are made possible for elementary students throughout the county by a $9,000 grant from the Walker Area Community Foundation’s Project Community fund.
Laing said she believes music is good for the soul, and she wanted to share her passion with local students for several reasons.
“It helps build their self-esteem, and it helps validate the ones who happen to be the creative type. It also helps improve test scores because kids who are good with music also do well in other areas,” Laing said.
Laing is teaching the students how to read music as well as how to sing properly. She has also exposed them to various genres of music.
In addition to “Dynamite,” the students have been practicing R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” and Dodie Stevens’ 1959 hit “Pink Shoelaces.”
Laing introduced them to the aria “Voi che sapete” around Valentine’s Day and hopes to have them performing “Children’s March” from the opera “Carmen” by the end of the semester.
Laing said she has enjoyed watching how the music affects all of the children she interacts with each week.
For example, a handful of boys in each school always feel the urge to break dance during “Dynamite,” and the sad opening bars of “I Believe I Can Fly” recently brought one little girl to tears.
“I told her it was okay because music does that,” Laing said.