Center starts Week of the Young Child with music

Kj Reimensnyder-Wagner played guitar and the djembe for Musical Monday at the start of the Week of the Young Child in Montour County.

You can keep the musician from her audience, but you can’t keep the musician from her music.

When government mandates closed most social clubs and events to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, local musician Kj Reimensnyder-Wagner got busy writing humorous songs about the disease and its impact on all of us. One song is tentatively titled “Social Distancing Blues” and another is hilariously sung to the tune of “La Cucaracha.”

And really, Reimensnyder-Wagner won’t be entirely absent from her audiences. She and a friend at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit will post two live concerts on Facebook at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. today to reach out to children and senior citizens.

“Music is our one, common language we can all speak all around the world,” Reimensnyder-Wagner said. “Technology can spread it around the world.”

She noted that the coronavirus and the social distancing measures our country is practicing can cause anxiety for us. Taking the situation two weeks at a time might make it easier to handle. We also have an opportunity to slow down a bit, listen to music and spend time in nature.

“The good part is, we’re having a chance to not only hear music but also hear the birds singing,” she said, sharing a moment in her morning walk when she listened to music through an earbud in one ear while hearing birds singing with the other.

Known throughout the Susquehanna Valley for her indomitably sunny spirit, Reimensnyder-Wagner brings joy and laughter to her audiences. Through the CSIU, she and Geoff Craven, a musician from New Columbia, perform together at Valley schools. Fun songs that we all grew up with, Craven said, like “Bingo” and the “Hokey Pokey.”

“I wish I could take everybody with me to see the kids, the smiles. They light up when they see Kj,” he said. “You can have the crappiest weekend ever and go into the classrooms with her on Monday, and it’s like, everything’s going to be okay.”

Realizing that kids will be home and feeling unsettled with their sudden change in routine, he and Reimensnyder-Wagner decided to create online concerts.

“We’re trying to make it light, trying to bring some sense of normalcy to kids at home,” Craven said.

Through the CSIU, they will livestream a performance at 1 p.m. today for children featuring songs the pair typically sings in the classroom.

Mindful of the number of people in elder care facilities who will be missing regular visits from their families, they will also perform another set of songs at 2 p.m. for seniors featuring songs like “You Are My Sunshine.”

Last summer, Reimensnyder-Wagner collaborated with Anne Lawrence, music educator from Selinsgrove, to produce GP & Me, a music and movement game created for children and their grandparents (GP) at the Lewisburg YMCA at the Miller Center.

“Kj’s music has a positive, nurturing spirit that speaks to our hearts through excellence,” Lawrence said. “She is a joy to work with. She brings so much joy and creativity to others.”

Trying to find a silver lining amid the coronavirus fears and challenges, Reimensnyder-Wagner noted that she’s heard of families who are appreciating the slower pace and the opportunity to spend more time together. Following an idea she learned from others, she is asking her parents to write silly songs on various topics set to the tune of familiar numbers like “Smoke on the Water,” just as an opportunity to keep up spirits and decrease “cabin fever” anxiety.

“If we can just try to do what we love and share it with other people, that’s the goodness that can come out of this,” she said. “There are ways around this. We’re all in this together.”

Tune in to the livestream programs at www.csiu.org/music or on Facebook Live on the CSIU’s Facebook page. A recorded version will be available at www.csiu.org/music.

Recommended for you