Great Sources for Children’s Songs

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Singing has always been one of my favorite things to do in the car (when I’m not listening to talk radio) and in church; so naturally, when I had a child, I wanted to sing to her, but not always old country tunes or church hymns (though we do the latter on Sunday night after I read to her from the children’s Bible).  I loved “Wee Sing” as a kid, because kids sang the songs, and the lyrics and melodies were easy to remember.  Whenever my family watched the Olympics, I loved listening to the different anthems, and chorus was one of my favorite classes in high school (even though the teacher asked me to please lip sync during performances).  When I was a little girl, “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” were two of my favorite movies, and part of that was because of the music.  Some movies like “Pocahontas” and “Rent” were only good for their singles.  Music in movies is like poetry in motion (pardon the cliché), and I’ve found many greats in the motion pictures.  How different would “The Graduate” have been without that awesome soundtrack?

There is just something about music that stirs the soul, and though I am hardly musically inclined (a sheet of music is like an unreadable map to me), I love it, and I wanted to instill in my daughter a love for it, too (it might even help her in math later, so I’ve heard).

  1. “The Wee Cooper of Fife” (the song the children in the schoolhouse are singing in “The Birds”).
  2. “Tammy” (from “Tammy and the Bachelor”, with Debbie Reynolds; though I would say this song is more appropriate for a little girl).
  3. “Early One Morning” (the first couple of lines of this song were sung by Pollyanna and Nancy when they were delivering calves foot jelly to the poor, but those two lines stuck with me and I googled the song), finding this wonderful link so I could hear the entire melody (I had to go to a separate site to find the lyrics):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OAyS8OK9J4
  4. “Que Sera Sera” (the classic Doris Day song, from “The Man Who Knew Too Much”).  This is a very sweet song.  The refrain of “Skedaddle Skidoo” (also sung by Doris Day in “The Tunnel of Love”) is cute, too.
  5. “Popcorn Popping” was a song I learned when I served a calling in the nursery when I was LDS.  It’s great because it has fingerplays to accompany the words.
  6. In the 1944 WWII film, “Since You Went Away”, two young lovebirds are walking through a farm, singing, “Oh, my darling Clementine”.  When I looked up the actual “campfire” song, I was surprised at some of the lyrics, but from Mother Goose (like the “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” who whipped her children, which is considered child abuse today) to Stephen Foster (whose songs are just all in fun and were written in a very different time), you’re going to run into some objectionable words and phrases.
  7. HooplaKidz on YouTube is great (and free).
  8. The soundtrack from “The Sound of Music”.  My parents bought my daughter a xylophone, and it’s great for demonstrating “Do Re Mi”.  I often love to incorporate many of Hannah’s “favorite things” (Oprah and Maria von Trapp aren’t the only ones!) into the song.
  9. Christmas songs!  “Away in a Manger” is like a lullaby.  I like both the secular and the religious, though I only sing the secular at Christmastime.  (Christmas is in December; Jesus is for all seasons.)
  10. http://www.theteachersguide.com/ChildrensSongs.htm.  Great site for lyrics, but I have to go to YouTube to get the melody.  Who ever knew there were so many verses to “London Bridge”?  I made up sign language for every verse, which has been terribly fun.  My daughter bounces and claps whenever I start a song with a dance of the arms and hands.

Dead Air

It was when the world went dark,
silent, but not still,
like the holding of a breath
during a home invasion,
seven something years ago,
that I was on my way to work,
listening to Dave talk about debt.

It was a day like any other,
but aren’t they always?
I listened to dead air
for thousands of seconds
before I turned it off,
so used to the voices was I—
the voices that made me feel
like I was a part of something more
than just my own life.
I was sharing in the joy of another young couple
paying off more debt than I could make in ten years.

It was August in Florida,
and when I got out of the car,
I felt like I was walking through a steam bath.
I used my cell phone to call my husband,
but there was no signal.
I picked up our landline,
but there was no dial tone.

I turned on the television.
Nothing.
I turned on my computer,
but again,
nothing.
No connection.
Communication was lost.

It was like The Birds,
this absence of technology—
like some kind of fog had flown over our town,
creating this quiet chaos.
Without constant communication,
it was like we were asleep,
like in The Village of the Damned.

The world as I knew it,
died that day,
but I wouldn’t know it for hours.
I suddenly felt very afraid,
for always before, anyone I loved
was just a phone call away.

When you came home,
you told me there would be no more
electronic communication for a long time,
if ever.
I thought of all my friends on Facebook—
some I couldn’t even remember where they lived,
and I felt they were lost to me forever.
It had been a long time since I’d ever really had to remember anything—
an address,
a phone number,
the meaning of a word.

The newspapers still managed to run,
but gone were the talking heads,
telling me how to think about what I heard.
I think I saw things as they really were for the first time.
Like the veil that we pass through when we’re born,
so that we forget from whence we came,
the veil of instant communication was parted that day,
and then disappeared like the mist.

Neighbors began to meet for coffee,
and there was a resurgence of books and poetry.
I saw teenagers playing outside,
and I rushed inside to grab my camera
to capture that perfect moment.
We began to relearn things we thought we had forgotten:
counting back change, cursive writing,
reaching out first in person without the screen-to-screen icebreaker.

The information superhighway was a pile of virtual rubble.
The news sites were replaced with newspapers,
the e-mail, with a handwritten letter,
for it seemed pointless to sit at a computer,
talking to no one.
I had to ask my husband where to put the addresses,
where to find the stamps.
I spent time looking across to the neighbor’s yard,
and saw children playing—
teenagers, no less.

Suddenly, the world which had seemed so small,
seemed so very large.
The other side of the world was like a dream
I could no longer imagine.
My children have never known a world like the one I had,
and I’m not sure they ever will.
Communication with a text,
a tweet,
is gone.

We speak now with our eyes,
our words,
our gestures;
not in memes,
or in 140 characters or less.
Characters.
It means what it used to mean.
I write a letter now,
the imprint of third-grade cursive
still engraved in my memory;
then I go to dust off the dictionary
to look up a word,
and I see not just the word I searched,
but the next word,
and the next,
until I have gone through all the C’s.

Somehow, a friend of mine found me,
and we managed to locate some of the rest.
Not all of us exchanged letters,
and even those that did began to feel so very far away.

The world I once knew is gone,
but this other world,
where the old has become new again,
is otherworldly.
I try to think when it was I stopped waiting,
hoping for the old way of life to return,
but I can’t remember;
I only know that it isn’t as bad as I would have thought,
for we humans are resilient.
We adjust,
we adapt,
we persevere.