Tag Archiv: singing

Songs, invitations, and miracles

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I am in a music group. Sometimes there are thirteen of us. Sometimes there are four. Backgrounds are varied. Retired business manager, school teacher, computer tech, farmer, accountant and so forth. Musical backgrounds are equally varied. Jazz, folk, musicals, guitar, classical training. One woman sang country western in bars every Thursday – Sat. for years. She had a chance to make it big, go to Nashville, but her husband said, no, that straw would break the camel’s back. So she stayed and sang her heart out here.

Without discussing temperaments, it’s safe to say not everybody gets along 100% of the time. At the worst times, people avoid each other. At the best, we don’t agree on how many measures to bridge between verses, or how long to make the introduction. We certainly don’t agree on which pieces should be sung when, and especially whether it is a glory or a torture to do the occasional piece in Latin.

We are very nearly like a family.  A little microcosm of personalities who love to sing, and irritations notwithstanding, we really love each other. Most people in the group live within five minutes of the church where we sing. I live almost half an hour away. A year and a half ago when I was sick, seven different meals were delivered to the house for our family.

We are musicians and little things bother us. Musicians, I observe, live closer to the edge than some. It makes us touchy. It might also help us step outside ourselves into the music. Outside the music, our footing may at times lack the steadiness of others. Inside of the music, we are loosed from ourselves. Ready for a mini-Pentecost, we are free to let the music speak for us and through us.

Sometimes the music our group makes is good. Other times we muddle through without the spark of something bigger. We don’t decide which day is which. We sing to offer up the grand invitation, hoping for the mighty wind to move among us. Every once in a while we feel the tongues of fire from our heads, through the depths of joy and sorrow, to our toes. We become the sum which is greater than our parts. In the cry of our own hearts we raise the longing of the hearts beside us. Our own voices lost, we are found in a single voice, together.

It doesn’t last forever. For all the wishing in the world, there’s no hanging on, only the chance to ask again and wait and hope. Say thank you and be changed. It’s not imagining. Sometimes for a second, a few minutes maybe, heaven opens up a window. In glimpsing what we will be, it changes who we are. Not just for a minute, but forever.

 

Fly on the wall

Hawk's View:  The personally crafted paradise of Boy two and Girl two. So named, I am told, because when you are in it (4 or  feet off the ground) you see what a hawk sees.

Hawk’s View: The personally crafted paradise of Boy two and Girl two. So named, I am told, because when you are in it (4 or 5 feet off the ground) you see what a hawk sees.

 

More quirky things from the kids, or  a few things the fly on the wall observed lately:

*Scene One

Intense voices followed by absolute silent and a lot of clicking. Then a voice would yell that the time was up, followed by more intensity. Some cheering, some shouting. What in heaven’s name, I wanted to know, were they doing? Boy one held up a calculator.

I am so good at this, you would not believe, he said. It’s a game. You add one as fast as you can and try to see how high you can get before the time is up.

We do it all the time, said Boy two. It’s great.

 

I have not been tempted to try the game.

 

*Scene Two

Girl one returned from walking grandma’s dog with the following sentiment:

Walking Jasmine is so nice. I can sing the whole time and work on my songs. The bad part is that she can’t tell me how good it is, but the really great thing is that she can never say she hates it.

 

*Scene Three

And on nice quirky, one of Girl two’s bedtime prayers:

I pray for Syria . . .and what’s that other country?

Sudan? Ukraine?

Sudan. And I pray for Mom’s friend . . . what’s her name again?

Her name is Stephanie, but I don’t really know her.

Yeah. I pray for Stephanie . . . but mostly I’m going to call her your friend because I can’t remember her name . . . Please help the people with their big rain and help all the people in the world that have bad bathrooms to get good ones . . . I think that’s a good prayer, do you think that’s a good prayer? I think everyone should have good bathrooms.

Definitely.

 

 

 

Growing a voice

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

I picked Girl one up from school in tears. What was wrong? I asked.

“I like to sing. None of my friends like it when I sing. I hum a lot when I work. My friends tell me to stop. I like to sing but Boy two hates it. He tells me to stop any time he hears me. Even the teachers are telling me to stop.

I love to sing, but now I have to stop doing it.”

The words came with intermittent sobs and much sniffling.

I just don’t want to stop singing,” she whispered through more tears.

Whatever the facts from the others involved, Girl one was in pain. What to say, I wondered. I believe in the importance of voices. Finding them, using them, celebrating them. I also like to work in silence. No sound (unless it is happening live in nature) is my idea of perfect working space.

When Girl one was two and three she would talk non-stop, especially in the car, no audience required. If she wasn’t talking, she was singing, making up ballads that told all kinds of stories. Now that she is older, she writes some of her songs down. On scraps of paper. In torn up notebooks. We don’t have them all collected. If I could find one, I’d count it a triumph, but I’ve seen a few. Little verses with chorus. At eight, Girl one has a beautiful voice. Other people have noticed it too.

What to do?

I told Girl one about my working habits. How, unlike Daddy, I NEVER listen to music if I writing, or thinking, even though I really, really love music. And how her friends might be like that too. Being asked to be quiet, I suggested, is not the same thing as people hating your voice. Whatever the answer is, it is not to stop singing. The answer is to know when to sing.

We like to read together, what if we start looking for times to sing together? Learn new songs? I have a few minutes right now if you’re interested, I said.

Girl one’s eyebrows touched the top of her head and pulled the rest of her up on tiptoes. I thought she might pirouette.  “I would love that,” she managed. We went to the piano and got out my music. We sang one she knew and worked on two others. I sang the verses with her but let her have the choruses to herself. She poured on her vibrato whenever possible. Fifteen minutes later, I had to get back to dinner. She walked away with little spins.  Her toothless smile began at the torn out- earring- redesigned ear, and didn’t seem quite finished when it hit the other side. “Thanks a lot, Mom,” she said coming back for a hug.

Song and Dance

Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I write, the children are upstairs dancing. Three of them. No reason. Out of the blue, one said, “I’m going to my room to dance. You guys want to come?”  I think our musicals kick off on Friday night has us feeling artsy. “Sound of Music,” was a huge hit. (Juvenile search for free, legal music to download has begun.) The singing/no speaking dinner was grand. We’ll do it again and give it time to develop. One was too shy. The others had a grand time. Five year old quite enjoyed her attempts at vibrato. A highly recommended activity, I say.

Maybe it’s a small thing to hear my child look up from reading a book and announce a desire to dance. It makes me happy. My own love of dance is hampered by the requirement to move my body without a plan. I remember going to a concert once. Nothing fashionable, just a marching band on a lawn. I loved it and I wanted to clap with the music. Most everyone else was. I was inside the sounds of trumpets and flutes, cymbals and drums, I wanted to be part of the song.

I don’t remember if I was eleven, twelve, thirteen . . . but I couldn’t do it. I pictured myself picking my hands up off my chair and putting them together, but I was too afraid to try. Not sure how to start. Worried that everyone else knew how to clap in time, but I might not.

Since that day, I have learned to clap to music when I want to. For a time, I could mostly line dance (thanks to help from anyone who would go over the simplest things with me just one more time). Line dancing had the beauty of set moves to follow, but that skill has gone the way of things.

My joyful dancing, the kind without a plan, has been with my children. I danced with them as babies when we were alone. Later my children began asking me to dance. About kids and dancing, I hold to the following to get me through the occasional requests to participate:

1. It matters more that they learn the freedom and joy of dance, than it matters that beyond the confines of my imagination and the walls of our home, I have known neither.

2. Along with remembering me taller and wiser than I am, their memories of whatever odd moves I may try to incorporate into my dancing have the potential to undergo similar distortions if I can just keep smiling.

The marvel of it grows in me. My children are upstairs dancing. For fun. Maybe I was faking it to get here, but my children love to dance. Watching them, I see the shadow of small miracles. Of these I can only say thank you. Bow softly. Wonder at such good gifts.

 

 

I’m taking the bait, Dear Abby

I think you need to have a real life musical evening…where everyone sings what they have to say. Sing through dinner….etc. If you yell at the kids, you have to sing it. heehee . . . .

(This was from Abby’s comment to my “Singing in the Snow,” post.)

Dear Abby,

Have you ever tried this yourself? This is a seriously great idea. You have now officially planned the first musicals kick-off night of the upcoming family musicals tour. . . date still to be determined.  I’ll post back the results, but really you are killing me. I wasn’t going to start the tour until school was out . . . Dec. 19th? 20th?  But if you think I can wait that long to sing my grievances at my children, you are wrong.  I have already begun working on possible lyrics. So far, I have a short number on the state of their rooms set to the tune of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”  I am still playing with the words to my impending mental breakdown serenade, but am using the tune of Amazing Grace to contrast nicely with my thoughts on uncivil sibling bickering and how it is affecting my peace of mind.

Many thanks for the brilliant suggestion. As soon as I can pull it off, we’re going for it.

Sincerely,

Singing to sanity, or not, but having fun, on County Road 21

Singing in the Snow

We put a pretty big value on family time over the Christmas break. This year, we have a plan that we’ve gone so far as to tell the kids, so there’s no going back now.  We’re going musical, as in musicals. All that’s really left is to pick the ones we’ll watch and get them.

`              Here’s why we’ll be watching so much singing and dancing this December . . .

1. Boy one announced that the music from Fiddler on the Roof was some of his favorite music in the world. (We didn’t even know he had downloaded it.) He started singing Fiddler songs around the house, but had no clue about the story.

This got me thinking. Then two more discoveries pushed the idea into a full blown mission.

2. Boy one confessed that, “Matchmaker,” was his favorite song at first because he assumed it was about someone playing with fire . . . and how cool is that, you know, mom?”  He said he sang it for a while before he figured it out.

3. We discovered that only one of our children had ever seen, “The Sound of Music.”

How it was we got this far, we two who both love musicals, without sharing this with our children, I have no idea. We did a test run last week with the 1971 movie version of, “Fiddler on the Roof,” to help us gauge our range for choosing.  They obviously understood it at different levels but regardless of comprehension, it was a big hit. Do you know how nice it is to hear your kids singing those songs around the house?

I feel a town crier is in order, although chances are that both the crier and my excitement about sharing musicals with children would be met with confusion.  Watching the kids enjoy, Fiddler on the Roof, was just so satisfying. I feel a kind of civic duty bursting out of me. Like I should be stopping people at the grocery store to tell them about it. Like I should be knocking on doors of people I don’t know and handing them copies of, The Sound of Music.

This is why I have a husband.  He reminds me that I will probably not want to knock on all those doors in the morning, so perhaps best not to print out all those fliers tonight.  “But that the original idea,” he will say carefully, “the one where we show 4 or 5 of the best ones to our kids . . . well, it’s just so manageable . . .”  And normal, he kindly does not add.

So, no posters, no grocery store announcements. Just a blog.  :)  Did I mention that we haven’t finished narrowing our list yet? Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady, for sure. After that, I welcome suggestions!