Author and musician Jim Gill set to delight children at Park City Library
Award-winning musician and author Jim Gill will bring his trademark music and play sessions to town at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave. Gill creates the spirit of a family room and invites children, parents and grandparents to sing and play together. The events are free and open to the public. For information, visit www.parkcitylibrary.org. For information about Jim Gill, visit http://www.jimgill.com.
When award-winning children’s book author and musician Jim Gill comes to the Park City Library on Saturday, neither of his sessions will be typical concerts.
“Jim’s philosophy is to get parents to sit on the floor with their children as they interact and engage with their children,” said Youth Services Librarian Katrina Kmak. “Since that’s the type of environment he wants to set, we’re not going to have the performances in the Jim Santy Auditorium. We’re doing to do them in the Community Room across the hall.”
Gill, who is also a child development specialist, will perform at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.
“He said he would do two performances for the cost of one just so he could play the Community Room,” Kmak said. “He will also sign his CDs and books if people bring them in.”
Gill developed his unique sessions after he earned a degree in child development, with an emphasis on the study of play, from the Erikson Institute of Chicago, he said.
“When I was in my 20s, therapeutic agencies around Chicago asked me to lead developmental play groups for families with kids who had special needs,” Gill said. “These weren’t musical play groups in the beginning, but I found myself doing more with music.”
The reason Gill began utilizing more music was because the tunes worked to meet the various agencies’ developmental goals for the kids, he said.
“It also worked to get parents, grandparents and other caregivers involved with the playing,” he said. “So I started to make up my own songs, and eventually it became something that people asked me to do at libraries or schools.”
Gill also tries to write smart music that doesn’t condescend to his audiences.
“One thing I found while making up songs for the play groups is that kids want to move to the music; even toddlers want to bounce around when music starts to play,” he said. “So I started making up music that become active-movement games. And I started having fun making up lyrics so I would enjoy it all as well.”
Gill mentioned a song called “Spin Again,” to illustrate his idea.
The idea of the song was to get listeners to spin around as fast as they can and then stop to enjoy the dizziness, he said.
“I found that I could have written the song two different ways,” Gill said. “One would be a bossy way where I would tell the kids to spin around and stop because I told them to. And the other way would be to have fun with the rhymes and teach the kids some vocabulary.”
He chose the latter, and his favorite rhyme in the song comes toward the end, where he sings, “I was losing my self discipline. My need to spin was genuine. I felt within that I must spin again.”
“It’s a lot more fun to have people (who are) excited about life tell you to do things,” Gill said. “I was never one to like having grumpy people tell me what to do.”
In addition to his CDs, Gill has authored two books, which he says are extensions of his play-based philosophy.
The first book is titled “May There Always Be Sunshine,” and its text is based on a Russian folk song, which, Gill said, is a launching point for a writing and play activity for adults and children.
His second book, “The Soup Opera,” was inspired by a piece Gill occasionally performs with symphonies.
“I remember playing it live and hearing the audience singing along to the lyrics, ‘I can’t eat the soup,’” he said. “After watching the video of the performance, I thought the song would be a great, silly sing-along opera book, which became a little hit for me.”
The book earned an American Library Association Award in 2010, and Gill has since won five more ALA awards for his recordings and books.
In addition, he has given presentations about music, play and literacy with other organizations, including Head Start, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Association for Family Child Care and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Kmak, who has been a fan of Gill for years, said she is honored to have Gill perform at the Park City Library.
“I’ve known about Jim since I taught preschool at the Deer Valley Academy,” she said. “We had all of his CDs and we would always do Jim Gill songs during story time.”
Kmak was drawn to Gill’s energy and knowledge.
“He understands children and what their needs are, and he knows music is a wonderful tool to teach, entertain and inspire these kids,” she said.
The librarian first met Gill at last year’s Utah Library Association Conference in Salt Lake City, where the musician gave a talk.
“His presentation about music and early literacy with children was amazing, and I knew we had to bring him to Park City,” she said. “I feel so fortunate that we have the opportunity to bring Jim Gill to the library. It’s not every year we can bring a renowned children’s music performer and author to our small town. The fact that he wants to come and perform here is awesome.”
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