Tag Archive | Singing

“Listen with Your Eyes”

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When our daughter Katie was 10 years old or so, she proceeded to tell me about her school day, while I was busy getting dinner ready. I nodded and replied with my usual “uh-huhs” at what I thought were the appropriate instances. Those instances were in between her breaths and in between my chopping of vegetables. I tried to get the vegetables chopped while trying to listen, but Katie noticed my lack of attention. She abruptly stopped talking, looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re not listening with your eyes.”

It was a true statement, which made me think back to the best piece of advice I’ve ever received. The advice was from my husband’s grandmother. She once told me to “Always listen to your children no matter what you’re doing. If you do that, you shouldn’t have any problems. It worked for me,” she said. Plus, the words “listen with your eyes” are from an old song sung by Peggy Lee entitled, I Can Sing a Rainbow. When I was younger, I played that tune so many times on my Mom and Dad’s phonograph it got embedded into my memory. Once the song was over, I lifted the arm and situated the needle back to the beginning of that song. At that time, I didn’t know it would become a favorite lullaby for me to share in my future days with my lovely children. I didn’t think of it as a lullaby back when I played it on the phonograph. I mostly liked how Ms. Lee sang the song, which is quite different from her other tunes.

I said, “You’re right, Katie.” I left the vegetables by themselves and sat down at the kitchen table next to her. I looked into her eyes and said, “I’m listening now.” Dinner got on the table a little later than usual, but I heard every word. I’m unable to recall what the conversation was about, but I remember it was important. It reminded me to listen with my eyes.

Have you ever heard that old song? I like how it gets sung to our grandchildren now! You never know when you’re learning something even if you’re just doing it for fun… What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Silent” and “listen” are spelled with the same letters. ~Author unknown

P.S. Today, I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I went to Writer’s Digest Presents A Year of Writing Prompts, by Brian A. Klem and Zachary Pettit. “April 24 – What’s the Best Advice You’ve Received? Everyone is always offering advice on everything. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?”


Joyfully Nice

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It wasn’t necessary to make a reservation today. Whoever got into one of the every other pews was able to stay. If the church was full, extra space could be found in the commons. If people arrived too late, they wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot. Luckily, my husband, our daughter and her family, and I made it in time and found space inside the church.

The sunny and warm day made it possible for people to dress in their Sunday best. Many wore a mask. Singing was allowed, where once it wasn’t. Today it felt right to be able to sing loudly with the blessing of family by my side. Even though our voices were muffled, the tunes reverberated through the church to sound as they had before the pandemic arrived. There were newer tunes mixed with the old. The older ones I hummed as a child until I learned the words. The newer songs are joyfully nice, but the traditional ones are engrained and bring me to the many Easters I’ve been able to observe. It was good to be able to celebrate Easter mass in a familiar way – a way that felt like coming home again.

Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to
strength and beauty and happiness.
  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

The Cheese Song

stack of love wooden blocks

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After our first grandchild was born, I was lucky to take care of beautiful baby boy (BBB) off and on for about two weeks while his parents were at work.  I made up a song about BBB and called it “Beautiful Baby Boy.”  The song goes like this:  “Beautiful baby boy, beautiful baby boy, La, La, La, La, beautiful baby boy,” which is too short.  I remembered a much longer song my classmates and I used to sing when we went on field trips in ninth grade.  It was something we sang on the bus, and it stuck with me.  

So tiny, I sang “It’s Cheese That Makes the World Go Round” to BBB from the beginning.  One time, when he was at our house and started to fuss while waiting in his little car seat, I sang The Cheese Song to him in front of my kids, and the familiar melody calmed BBB down.  The kids thought it was a silly song and much too long.  I am sure I sang it to them once or twice when they were little, but they didn’t remember.  It’s a song for grandmas to sing because it goes on forever!

One day, after BBB grew and grew and started to talk, he said, “The Cheese Song,” which made me beyond happy because it makes me think he likes the song, probably because it goes on forever!  Like many toddlers, BBB has figured out how to delay the progression towards nap time.  Now when I get to put BBB down for a nap at our house, BBB and I cuddle in the old wooden rocker that used to be in my own children’s baby bedroom.  BBB and I rock back and forth and the wooden floor boards squeak underneath along with us as we go.  We rock with our hearts facing, in one big hug.  Now it seems like our song isn’t long enough because sometimes, when you think back, hugs seem too short…

There are different renditions of our song on the internet, but the one we know goes like this:

It’s cheese, it’s cheese, it’s cheese that makes the world go round,
It’s cheese, it’s cheese, it’s cheese that makes the world go round,
It’s cheese, it’s cheese, it’s cheese that makes the world go round,
It’s cheese that makes the world go round.

Oh, rolling over the meadow, rolling over the sea, rolling over the
meadow and the deep blue sea, Oh, rolling over the meadow, rolling
over the sea, rolling over the meadow and the deep blue sea.

For the next six rounds, the word “cheese” is replaced with the following words:  mice, cats, dogs, boys, girls, and finally love, so that the final version is “It’s love that makes the world go round.”

Have you ever heard of The Cheese Song?  

I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.  ~William James

Under the Steeple

low angle view of clock against sky

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“Hi Evie,” I said enthusiastically.  “It’s Mary Ann, from choir.”  Even though I’ve only been a part of choir for a short time, I find it surprising that I miss it so much.  Plus, having been sheltering at home, I was extra excited to see someone I know in the flesh instead of over a computer screen.  

Evie was one of the first people to talk to me when I joined and has been a member for a long time.  We are in the alto section together, and Evie helps me get the notes right.  I can hear her very well, since she sits behind me.  We chatted for a short time, while we were both walking our dogs.  We were sure to keep a good distance from each other so as not to spread any unknown germs.  Evie said she misses everybody and can’t wait until we can all be together again.  I feel the same and look forward to singing with our group again.

Our choir stopped getting together the beginning of March because of COVID-19.  At that time, we were getting ready for the most important weekend of the year, Easter.  The first time I attended practice was last September.  I knew it was time for me to join because the choir sang songs that were not in the missal or worship aid.  I wanted to sing those songs too!  During my first practice, I seriously got chills while we were practicing one of the songs.  The little hairs on the back of my neck stood out.  I couldn’t believe I was among so many talented people.  Surely, I thought, This must be what angels sound like.  Not only did everyone sing beautifully, there is a comedic connection among the members that bonds the group together. It’s not only the music that I miss, it’s the good humor that comes along with the ins and outs of practicing to become better.

Another thing I miss is the cream-colored robe.  The first few times I wore it, I felt uncomfortable.  The robe is linen and covers from neck to toes.  It sometimes sticks to my clothes and bunches up when I’m walking.  I usually wear a t-shirt and cotton pants underneath because everything can get really warm.  I started to appreciate the robe when people I’ve never met came up to me after the service to tell me how great the choir sounded that day.  Now when I tune in to watch the live stream, I see how empty the entire space looks.  The choir loft seems especially bare.  Chris, our organist, is there every Sunday with one of the cantors, and I try to sing along.  After one of the first Sundays of the shelter-at-home, Chris emailed to let us know how much he misses seeing us in the loft.  Chris closed his email by signing it “Your Organ Grinder.”  🙂

When people get back to under the steeple, I will happily wear my cream-colored robe no matter how warm I get.  As long as we sing, we pray twice, and we all can use double the prayers right now. 

To sing is to pray twice. ~St. Augustine