HOMESTEAD HOOTENANNY

What better way to grow community than  through  good food and singing.

Singing not only is fun but also is good for your health.

Many people think that farming or raising chickens , etc., is all that is necessary to get back to the natural laws of life. While it is a start, it is not the end. We have become more and more convinced over the years that it is transforming all aspects of your life (baby steps!). For example, it is obvious that you cannot have a successful harvest if your underlying soil is poor. That is elementary. But what about the missing elements in natural living, some of which we are not even yet aware of? Getting in touch with nature is more than what we think.

By going natural, I do not mean “going green” while maintaining our standard of living we have grown accustomed to. It demands a radical shift in our thinking, much more than some of us are willing to undertake. But that is a story for another time.

Right now, I want to  deal with another missing element that I have recently experienced that is vital for a successful, more “natural” lifestyle. That element is music. Although we are surrounded by nature’s “music” — birds singing, the sweetly blowing wind and the soft rustling of the vegetation (if you ignore the freeway sounds for a moment)- there is also the making of, and participating in, music as a community.

Oftentimes, I sit and sing softly to myself or play the guitar with my sister. It is soothing and comforting and can lift my spirits when I need it. But there is a magic that happens when those very acts are done in a sense of community. It is like for a moment in time, everyone around you is immersed in the same rhythms and harmony that are surrounding and moving you. Community singing unites people. Today, too much of our leisure time is spent in solo activities like surfing the internet, watching TV or listening to songs on the radio or YouTube via earplugs by ourselves. But get a group of people together to sing and things change. You change. We strengthen our sense of community by singing songs together and weaving shared memories  and emotions into our lives. For a moment in time, we are all on the same page…and it is nice.

What has impressed me about the sing alongs is that the participants’ ages vary from the youngest at 1 year to the oldest around 80, all sitting together and enjoying the same event. Where can you find that today? Not even in most families is that even seen. Most entertainment today is targeted for a specific group and not attractive at all to each individual in a wide range of ages.

Lifting our voices in song  lifts our spirits and binds us in a way only music can.  I can’t tell you how many times folks have come up or commented how “magical” these evenings are. People can’t sit still in their seats.  They end up dancing in the aisles!  Like that old song says “Do you believe in magic.”  I sure do and it comes in the form of communal singing in a backyard on a cool California night.

Though I haven’t the courage yet to do a solo act on my own,  I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity of having met such outstanding musicians who give of their talents and time to help the rest of us blend together in “harmony” if only for a moment. No wonder that old Coke ad of the 60s was so catchy with the iconic lyrics ” I ‘d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Group singing worldwide…in harmony…together for a purpose…. and good health!

(P.S. After writing this article, I found this on the internet  and the  message  reflects my feelings)

Much of this impulse descends from Pete Seeger, who has championed the cause of group-singing for more than 60 years. “No one can prove a damn thing,” Mr. Seeger said in a recent interview, “but I think that singing together gives people some kind of a holy feeling. And it can happen whether they’re atheists, or whoever. You feel like, ‘Gee, we’re all together.’ ”

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Singing & Wellbeing

Keeping body and soul in tune

Comments(7)

  1. Joyness Sparkles says:

    Oh I love it! Someday…someday, we will meet some people where we can do this. And how exciting it will be! 🙂

  2. Trish says:

    So beautiful! Reading this brought tears to my eyes. How I wish this could be a reality for ALL communities. Thank you for warming my heart today!

  3. Amy says:

    Thanks for a wonderful story and reminder. Music is so powerful and I feel overwhelmed with emotion whenever there is group song. I would like to have this in my life and envision it being a part of our community garden project in the near future. However, as you said, baby steps – I have been wanting to learn an instrument (I already have it!) for some time, but feel that so much of my adult time is devoted to trying to learn all of the homesteading skills that a person in previous lifetimes would’ve already learned growing up, and how to perform all of them for my household. Just trying to figure out how to fit all of this learning and doing in. I suppose the winter is a good time to pick up a musical hobby, and hopefully the music can someday be the thing that I do to “not” be doing something.

  4. Jan says:

    Love love love it!

    Jan @door251

  5. Susan says:

    Great post! I go to church every week and we all sing together, and a few times it’s occurred to me that people who don’t attend church probably have few opportunities to sing in a group. Singing with others is a wonderful experience!

    Remember that great scene in Casablanca where the hero leads the people in singing the French National anthem?

  6. Deborah says:

    I remember listening to the adults sings after a neighborhood get together growing up. This was in a New York suburb. One night, my friends and I stuck a cassette tape recorder under the hedge and taped the songs. We played it back to my mother with lots of giggles.

    She only said “wow, I thought we sounded much better.” Everyone sang just the same on another summer evening. Just listening was alot of fun.

    You don’t need a crowd. Years after the cassette episode I sang at the top of my lungs, just my then fiancee and I. The wine of the wind through the open car top drown the noise and gave me confidence. My grandparents said they used to sit out on their country back porch and listen to the neighbors sing from theirs.

  7. Amaranth says:

    Along these lines, it’s a lot of fun to participate in group dances. Square dancing is great. So are the circle dances from the middle ages to the present. The great thing about both of these is that participants can easily learn the steps at the dance. In your area as well as many others around the world there are middle ages reenactment groups(SCA) that know and teach the circle dances. Some girl scout groups teach these too. For the square dances usually the caller will teach a few of the basic steps, then everyone does a dance with those. Then s/he will do a dance that includes the new step. Periodically another step will be taught and enjoyed in the next dance.

    Live music makes it extra fun, but previously recorded music is good too.

    Amaranth

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