Music and Memories

I have a confession to make. I love to sing, but I never really learned to read music. I mean, I can tell you which notes are on the staff, but I never even learned to tell what key things were in, which is surprising since I played the violin fairly competently ’till I was eleven.

Back to singing. The way I hear the story, although I don’t remember it, was that when I was small I would sing my little heart out. All the same note.

That must have gotten to my big sister, who had a beautiful voice, because she took me firmly in hand. We were sentenced to dishes together, and during that time we would sing. My sister loved show tunes, and I remember singing a lot of them with her, but the first song I remember that she taught me was White Coral Bells. My sister was a Girl Scout, which I imagine is how she learned the song, and she didn’t give up on me until I could sing it with her as a round. I work better with accompaniment.

I am both what I would call a competent alto and a wanna-be soprano, you see. So, although my range is probably truly alto, I would rather sing the soprano part because, let’s face it, they get the melody most of the time. One of the only times I really like the alto is during the song Beautiful Savior. It is, I think, my favorite hymn, but being a competent alto, I sing the part best when I am beside someone who knows what she is doing. I can match the notes; I just have a problem finding them all on my own when the soprano part is sounding so sweetly in my ear. This was not a problem when the daughter was at home, but my nest has been empty for some eight years which means, when we sing Beautiful Savior I miss the daughter. A lot.

Which is why I ended up at the her church today. The daughter is the choir director, and they were singing Beautiful Savior. Since they were two altos down, she invited me to sing with them. She can sing both the soprano and the alto parts, but she was busy directing so, while I didn’t actually get to sing beside her, I did sing with her.  She even put me by a strong alto so that I sang what I was supposed to sing. 🙂

The day was even better, though, because we also sang Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning. I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw this hymn, but I do remember where I saw it. It was in Highlights for Children and, for some reason I can’t recall, my sister took it upon herself to teach it to me during our nightly doing-of-the-dishes. It was much later when we sang it at church and I realized it was a hymn. I just thought it was a beautiful song.

Singing with the daughter makes me happy most probably because singing was something that I enjoyed with my sister. I never told her that I taught the daughter White Coral Bells. I’m not sure I ever told her how much I enjoyed singing with her, and I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. I tell the daughter often how much I love her singing, and I have made sure that she knows how I learned the songs that I love.

Maybe that’s the best legacy I can leave for my sister. And Lord willing,  maybe somehow she knows.

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February 2008
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