“Magical Sounds” of the Forest Children

What do “forest musicians,” rock music, and senior citizens have in common? You will find out from our social media manager Verena, who accompanied the event in Herrieden for you.

“The Forest Musicians are here: Chirp chirp! Knock knock! Hurray! Welcome to the grand concert.”

The terrace of the Caritas Senior Home in Herrieden is filled to the last seat, and as the forest children and the children from the “schulvorbereitende Einrichtung” (preparatory school) in Herrieden start their first song, the residents from Lebenshilfe arrive, and the windows on the upper floors open. It quickly becomes evident that something exciting is happening, and the air is filled with anticipation.

Today is the day: the performance as part of the Bavarian Music Action Day is on the schedule, and the children have been eagerly looking forward to it for a month, practicing passionately. Jürgen Rupp, the children’s choir conductor and music teacher in Herrieden, who rehearsed the songs with the forest children, stands with his guitar by their side, filled with enthusiasm. “Singing together is scientifically proven to be good for health,” he explains before the performance. And that’s exactly the purpose here: to have a cross-generational singing experience with children, senior citizens, and grandparents – today, only the older generation is invited.

150,000 children and teenagers make music together at over 1,000 locations throughout Bavaria during the last week of May. Under the motto “Together Singing,” the Bavarian State Coordination Office for Music (BLKM) promotes cross-generational musical education. Aline, the head of the forest children in Herrieden, was immediately excited when she heard about the concept. The children also agreed and were eager to get started. Jürgen was brought on board, and the senior home enthusiastically accepted the invitation. Word spread about the planned event, Lebenshilfe joined in, and the Brown and Panda Bears from the preparatory school were also delighted with the cooperation. “Now we finally have something special too,” a child said to Aline after the joint rehearsal.

At the forest children’s facility, they sing together with the educators every day, whether during the morning circle or when all the children gather at their meeting point. The emphasis on music brings the children even closer together, and any language barriers fade into the background when they sing. “And how do trains go?” The children stand up, walk around the circle, and you can hear only “Choo-choo-choo – huup huup!” During the three rehearsals with Jürgen, the children warm up and learn vocal exercises playfully. Questions like, “But what does a musician do? How do I write a song? And can you play something rock?” pop up. Unfortunately, Jürgen couldn’t play rock music, but he took the homework and, presto, at the next rehearsal, the children danced enthusiastically to his guitar rock performance.

But back to the performance: During the song “The Forest Musicians are here,” the children proudly presented their self-conceived and self-made forest instruments: rattles with seeds, hand drums, or harps – simply take a forked branch, stretch strings across it, and pluck – and sounds can be created. For our forest children, it’s no problem with the right tools. The children from the preparatory school also came up with something special and complemented the song “Magical Sounds” with noise instruments to mimic waves or birds, making the songs interactive and coming to life. After joyfully listening, it’s now the turn of the senior citizens! Despite modern lyrics, they recognize two familiar melodies among the presented songs. In a second round, all generations come together and sing, among others, “Green green green are all my clothes” with the original text. To provide a little memory aid for the various verses to the older audience, the forest children decided to draw posters with the professions mentioned in them and hold them up as much as possible. By the last song “Hejo, spann den Wagen an,” the whole audience is swept away, singing and clapping enthusiastically or simply enjoying the atmosphere.
“No matter who can do what, who has what strengths or weaknesses, when singing, it’s simply a community. Everyone is equal and participates as they wish and can,” Aline explains afterwards.

As the children enjoy the applause, a caregiver from the senior home suddenly comes to the front with his guitar, says, “Surprise – we have brought a song for you too,” and starts singing “Der Kuckuck und der Esel.” Afterward, there is a sweet surprise, and all the children rush to Frau Rossmeisl, the head of care at the home, exclaiming, “Yummy ice cream!!” From that moment on, the children decide to give their forest instruments and signs to the senior citizens and then build new ones. They walk among the touched residents, handing over their treasures.

“When the staff looked around and then looked at each other, they all had goosebumps,” Sabrina Rossmeisl tells Aline, filled with emotion after the performance. She and Angela Beck, the head of nursing, definitely want to repeat the event: “With music, you achieve much more than just with words, and finally, after the Corona period, we were able to sing in a large group again.” While the children happily run to their grandparents, showing them their participation stickers from the action day, Jürgen and Aline are already making plans for next year. “The children sang wonderfully, and the project was a lot of fun for me personally, especially rehearsing outdoors in nature. It would be nice if we could continue it,” Jürgen reports after the performance. “A complete success of a project,” Aline proudly says, “everyone was enthusiastic, and two great collaborations resulted from it!”

We are sure that in the future, we will hear more from the forest children, the preparatory school, and the senior home of Caritas in Herrieden (perhaps even new rock versions of the songs :D), and we are already looking forward to being part of it again – and, of course, we will keep you updated!

If you want to see the performance, you can find our corresponding YouTube video and pictures of the rehearsals, forest instruments, the performance, and, of course, the certificate of the forest children in the image gallery below.