Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spring Sing-spiration!

Birds do it. I've noticed. With the light starting earlier these days, I'm sometimes awakened by their glorious day-greeting songs. No more swimming in the dark of morn. "Morning has broken, like the first morning, black bird has spoken, like the first bird." It's great to be alive and healthy they're singing. Why not?

Monday, as I was leaving my tutoring assignment, the teacher asked if I knew any "Spring Songs" I could teach or she could teach. I told her I would think about it and get back to her. I racked my brain and had some trouble. I went to a couple "source books" I still have from when I used to lead a group. We used to have a "Spring Sing" and each class plus the "resident glee club" had to come up with a song to perform at school. I wonder if they even do that anymore? I'm amazed at what I found...not much with the word or concept "Spring" in it. My specialty was "folksongs" and there just aren't that many. "Aura Lee" has the word "spring" in it but that refers to the watery kind. One of the kids in the class was quick to point out that there were also the "metal kind". I had to explain...'neath, piped, swallows(vocab). That got into an annual Spring event, St. Joseph's Day and the return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano Mission. They were late this year.

Of course we had to present "Garden and Growing Folksongs" "Inch by Inch, row by row, Gonna make this garden grow..." It has six verses and a rather profound comparison metaphor to life. Too deep for these little charges. Then there is the "Anti-Garden (parody)" "Slug by slug, weed by weed..." Then there is the old familiar "Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow". Did you know that can lead into a creative group round dance? ..."Waiting for a partner, waiting for a partner, Open the ring and take me in, While we all daily dance and sing." One of my favorites is "White Coral Bells" I'm always reminded of them growing along the paths of the Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA. We lived close by and used to walk its perimeter regularly to lose or maintain weight. There are different colors of coral bells, not just coral or white, so I'm told. Here the song asks the singers (kids) to use their imaginations by ..."hearing the bells ring"...and refers to fairies singing. This is hardly a reference you can make anymore in public without a derogatory remark. Too bad.

However, the kids' all time favorite "Spring Song" and one most of the kids already knew was, "On Top of Spaghetti"...yes, that's a Spring song. It refers to a "meatball rolling into the garden and growing into a tree with moss and sauce" It also refers to sneezing, a Springtime activity. Kids love it. I told the teacher she could have (I would) the kids "act it out". Another song I forgot I had in my uke case was "Froggie Went A-Courtin'. My dad used to sing that to me. We had our grandkids sing and act it out the last time they were over at "Camp Gramma". It has 14 verses with true dramatic conflict ie. "uncle rat's consent, a hungry tomcat and a big old snake" who all come to the "wedding of Miss Mousie and Froggie" Great stuff for kids and fun in school.

What amazed me was that the requesting teacher didn't know any of the songs, tunes or words except the spaghetti number. I thought that this was one of the "main things" for schools to "pass on" or teach ie. "culture" folk culture. Maybe not, anymore. Too concerned with the 3 R's and passing the tests to get the funding and the good PR in the local news. Too bad. There is a wealth of vocabulary, grammar, syntax, meaning in songs, lyrics etc. Families don't pass it on anymore around the hearth or campfire I guess, nor do the schools (or Scouts) A me. Oh well...

I didn't even think to share the Springtime song I sang today in our Barbershop Group. "Jeannine" Have you heard it? Beautiful..."Lilacs in bloom, rarest perfume, tells me that waiting has ended. Springtime is here, soon you'll be near, When all our heartaches are mended. Close in my arms fond embraces, once more in happier places; Jeannine, I dream of lilac-time, your eyes they beam in lilac-time, your winning smile, and cheeks, blushing like the rose. Yet all the while you sigh when nobody knows, Jeannine, my queen of lilac-time. When I return, I'll make you mine (all mine) For you and I, our love-dream can never die. Jeannine, I dream of lilac-time...I dream of my Jeannine."
Alittle too old and schmatzy for such young ears or for "Betty Marie". But what a song of Spring and Love! Bob!


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