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Songs | Fall 2019
Graphic: Jack's House

Jack’s House

Kathy Reid-Naiman is the queen of irresistible fingerplay songs. She tells us she was “thinking about traditional rhymes and what qualities made them endure through centuries of children. The main thing, to my mind,” she says, “is the imagery, the way the words describe what you are hearing in a simple way that evokes a picture in your mind.

“So, I decided to write a traditional rhyme using the same words in a different way that could also be described using my hands. I included many clichés to try to make it sound old. I started with the house. . . . And of course, it had to be Jack’s house. This is the house that Jack built. Then I had to describe it. . . . It had windows, walls, and a floor. It had a roof to keep the rain out . . . and a peephole in the door (that is the giveaway line that tells you that this wasn’t written very long ago). Since I was already thinking about the door, it made sense to have a lock on it, so it needed a key.

“The fingerplay seemed complete and stayed that way for a few weeks until I started thinking about where the house was and who lived in it. So, it evolved into a song. When I use it in my classes and concerts, I always teach the fingerplay without the tune first. That way, once listeners have heard the first verse sung, they are ready to sing the same tune and do the fingerplay.”

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