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Music is a bond between seniors and second-graders

Somerset second-graders sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"as part of their Grandparents Day program last week. It was one of the songs they'd heard the Panhandlerz Kitchen Band perform in their visit to the elementary school.

When Panhandlerz Kitchen Band took the stage at the Somerset Elementary School, second grade students looked at each other in amazement and made comments like "wow, they are old."

Within minutes, the those second-graders and the senior citizens in Panhandlerz were singing and dancing together and enjoying each others company a great deal.

The idea to have the two generations come together came from elementary music teacher Al Duerkop and student teacher Eleanor Peterson.

The kids were apprehensive when they saw the women carrying in washboards, kazoos and the other non-traditional instruments. Once Panhandlerz started performing, the kids found out they played many of the songs the second-graders were learning for their Grandparents Day program last Friday. The delightful music won the kids over immediately.

"The kids treated them like rock stars," Duerkop said.

One of the songs played by the Panhandlerz was "Waddaly Atcha." The second-graders informed the seniors that there were hand motions that went along with the song, so part of the program was spent with the second-graders teaching the seniors these hand motions.

Duerkop said this event ties in with the social studies curriculum theme of community and the study of geneology. It allowed the children to become more comfortable with senior citizens. One of the women in the band had a student in the audience who was her great-grandchild.

This event was the start of an on-going relationship between the second-graders and the seniors. The second-graders are scheduled to go the the Somerset Senior Center twice during November for a sing-along with the Senior Citizens.