The Amma-Llama Song, or The Ugly Side of the Arts in School

I have a trivia brain.  Sometimes this is pretty fun, but most of the time it’s an inconvenient and disappointing waste of brain space.  For example, knowing that Stuart Townsend nearly got the role of Aragorn is not nearly as useful as knowing recipe substitutions, the political forces in the Middle East, or algebra.

One thing that my trivia brain has apparently decided is worth remembering is a terrible dance exercise we used to do in music class in fourth grade.  The kids would all sit on the floor in two rows facing each other, singing a song, and when each student reached the top of the line, he or she would get up and dance down between the rows, sit down, and scoot up the line to start the process all over again.

As you can imagine, this is a high degree of humiliating.  Having to dance at all is embarrassing; having to dance through your classmates while they’re singing up at you is even worse.

Keep in mind, if you can, a vision of nine-year-old me, with long wispy blonde hair held back with a curly-ribboned bow.  I was probably also wearing colorful tights, a jumper, and a matching turtleneck, or possibly a Minnie Mouse sweatshirt.  I had recently moved to this new school with their atrocious music program and I was not remotely cool.  And now I had to sit with my classmates, sing a moronic song over and over, and scoot closer to the front of the line, where my utter humiliation awaited.

And for some reason, my brain remembers every word of the stupid song we sang:

Amma llama kooma llama hoomala pizza
Oh no no no no – a pizza
Otchy kotchy lemon rotchy ooh ahh thumbelina
onny monny dixie ponny x y z!

I could learn the streets of both downtown Vancouver and Portland, remember more obscure payroll functions at work, maybe even have clearer memories of the happier parts of my childhood – but no, I have a vivid recollection of one of the most frustrating and embarrassing parts of fourth grade.  And I remember the entire stupid idiotic song.  Thanks, brain.

I have good memories from childhood art classes, like making a papier-mache tiger mask, replicating part of a famous painting of Mount Fuji, and making lots of less-than-stellar ceramics, but those are the memories I tend to bring up when discussing the value of art in schools, and not the stupid dance party.  I do honestly believe that art programs are essential to schools – it was a “publishing” program offered at my first elementary school that got me interested in writing as a kindergartener – but for the sake of the other dorky introverted nine-year-olds out there, I hope they eliminate the crummy faux-music classes.  They can keep the Beethoven documentaries, the impromptu choir, even the obligatory recorder practice – just please, no more amma-llama dances.


4 thoughts on “The Amma-Llama Song, or The Ugly Side of the Arts in School

  1. What were the adults thinking when we were growing up?? I remember unfortunate, useless things like that too. I can also still sing the school song from the elementary school I attended until fourth grade. 😛

  2. My first stepmom taught music at the second elementary school I attended, and I still remember one of the really simple Spanish songs we learned–“Chocolate, chocolate, con arroz y con tomate…” Blegh. I know a great many people with trivia brains, and I think we’re all sighing in recognition of this feeling. There’s probably a word for it in German.

    • My Spanish is very rusty (as in, nonexistent) but…chocolate with corn and tomatoes?

      Maybe Katie can find that German word for us!

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