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Catholic Activity: Sing Alongs

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From the very time when the first baby is born, the mother should sing to her child. There are innumerable lullabies, nursery rhymes, and little prayers to be found in songbooks, just waiting to be brought to life. Parents will be astonished at how soon the little ones will carry a tune, and this will lead naturally to singing in parts, with Mummy taking over the second and Daddy later adding the third. Singing is something entirely natural. If only one could cure that horrible phobia we come across so often: "I can''t sing — I don''t have a piano!" The most beautiful instrument is the human voice, which God gave to everyone.

The radio could provide a valuable education in every household if listening were planned intelligently with the help of the weekly program. But often the radio is turned on early in the morning, to be turned off only after the lights are put out at night. More than once when people invited us to their homes after a concert, I noticed that even before they switched on the light they turned the knob on the radio. It always filled me with awe to see how completely this piece of machinery dominates our homes. Let''s turn off the radio so that we may discover our own voices in an evening of song.

From years of experience here in America we know how much fun everybody gets out of singing "rounds"; so let us begin by singing every round first in unison; and when everyone knows the melody well enough to hold his own, in two parts; and later, in three or four — whatever this particular round calls for.

"Rounds" are performed in the following way One singer, or one group of singers, starts out. When the score shows the figure "2," the second singer, or second group, comes in, and so on. One can end rounds in two different ways: (1) Either everyone keeps on singing the melody and repeating it until the leader indicates the time to end and the singers hold the tone marked by a fermata {symbol cannot be used in ASCII text}. (In the notation of rounds this is what fermata stands for.) (2) Or a round may be ended in the same manner it began: by having every part sing their melody twice or three times and then stop, so that the last group to start singing is the last to finish. Most of the time you can use any combination of equal or unequal voices for the singing of rounds. Very soon you will hear these rounds sung throughout the house during dish washing, during housework — wherever there are two or more people in the same room — or in summer while weeding in the garden. Singing rounds is the most natural and easiest way to school the ear for part singing. Here we give a few songs from our summer program which have become favorites in many an American home.

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Activity Source: Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp, Pantheon Books Inc., New York, New York, 1955

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