One of my favorite parts of a HooteNanny class is the Play Along Bucket. Towards the end of each class, we teachers put on a track from a CD–something from some other wonderful band like Grenadilla or Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem–and pull out a big container full of simple kid-friendly percussion instruments–things like shaker eggs, guiros, tambourines,castanets shaped like frogs and cats. And that’s it. We let the kids explore the buckets, choose a favorite, or seven, and gently engage with one or two different kids, helping her figure out how to manipulate the instrument. As a mom, sometimes I just concentrate on my own playing, shaking along or slapping the tambourine to my hip, letting the beat work its meditative magic on me. I don’t get that many opportunities in a day to just follow a beat, and it’s pretty wonderful.