Irene Chagall – Let’s Get Rhythm
When San Francisco-based music teacher, Irene Chagall, discovered her passionate interest in girls’ hand clapping games on a trip to Ghana, she saw young girls playing many of the same games as American children. Indeed, many of the same games she, herself, played as a youngster.
After a great deal of in depth research including gathering archival footage from around the world, Chagall brought her research to the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage 2003 and was appointed a Smithsonian Research Associate.
“One of the things that has been a vital part of my professional life for many years is teaching music to children between two and twelve. At the San Francisco Community Music Center, the San Francisco Jewish Community Center Nursery School, and many Bay Area elementary schools, I have brought music and learning together. I sit on the floor with anywhere between five and twenty-five kids at a time. I sing with them. I do puppet play with them. I dance with them. We blow horns and conch shells, strum homemade cigar box guitars and tap turtle shells. We clap and snap. We have a good ol’ time.”
Working with the esteemed folklorist, Bess Lomax Hawes and City Lore’s Steve Zeitlin, she received sponsorship from the California Academy of Sciences and obtained grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Art Films and in 2014 finished the film, Let’s Get The Rhythm.