Where Did the Real Music Go?

Mamacita says:  Where did the music go?  Our children, and some of you, don’t know any standard American songs or basic classical melodies that everybody used to know.  What happened?  How did we allow this to happen?  It didn’t used to be this way.

Back in the day (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) every American student knew hundreds of songs, all the same songs, for the most part. Every Wednesday morning, kids all over the States would gather in their school’s auditorium, or cafeteria, and sing. In my little grade school, it was called the All-School Sing. The music teacher was in charge, and she didn’t ‘teach’ the students much of anything. She just started playing and all the older kids joined in, and after a few weeks the younger kids had picked up all the lyrics and joined in, too. It was an awesome way to learn the songs, imitating the cool big kids!  Miss Catherine Keach knew how it was done.  We loved it. I couldn’t WAIT to know all the songs those big kids knew.

Singing children are learning more than just songs.

Singing children are learning more than just songs.

Every kid in my generation and before knew all the words to all the verses of most ‘standard American songs.’ We had songs for every holiday, every season, every celebration known to mankind, yes, even the minority ones. We knew dozens of patriotic songs. Funny songs. Indiana songs.

Even more importantly, we knew the major themes from hundreds of classical selections, because they were taught to us beginning in kindergarten, with age-appropriate lyrics. To this day, my generation can hum great classical music.

I think my generation, and the half-generation after me, were the last to benefit from this fantastic program. Shortly afterwards, it was deemed a waste of valuable class time, and it was done away with.

In my grandparents’ generation, music was so important in the schools that if the orchestra lacked a particular instrument or chair, a professional was hired to fill it. If you read A Girl of the Limberlost, you will see examples of such things. (you really should read that book, but before you do, you have to read Freckles. It comes first. Both are by Gene Stratton Porter, and are absolutely wonderful. WONDERFUL.)

I still have my music textbooks from grade school. They are full of sweet little songs, most of which use the melodies of famous classical compositions. As children we didn’t know that, of course, but as we got older and found out what we actually KNEW, we were astounded and felt so cool. The love of those melodies had been instilled in us, and it would never leave us. And it made us seek out the actual compositions themselves, that we might hear it all.

One of my old elementary music books.

One of my old elementary music books.

And in the back of each of those books is the synopsis of an entire opera.  I adore Grieg’s Peer Gynt to this day.  (The 1957 movie version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which used Grieg’s melodies for its songs, helped fuel my Grieg obsession, too.  Don’t laugh at that laughable movie; it turned a lot of little kids to the light as far as Grieg was concerned.  It’s corny as all get-out, but it’s a fun hour and a half and you’ll hum Grieg for the rest of your life.)

All the songs use melodies from Grieg's "Peer Gynt!"

All the songs use melodies from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt!”

What do kids learn in music class nowadays? People like my sister do a fantastic job, considering the limitations put upon them, and the ridiculous even-larger-than-regular-classes student population thrust upon them all at once, but many schools have done away with music altogether, because they need the time for ISTEP review. In most schools, the students wouldn’t recognize a treble clef if it hit them on the head. And Beethoven is a big dog.

I used to quiz my middle school students about songs. Few knew many that weren’t on MTV. Why don’t kids these days know anything about real music? Because they aren’t taught anything about it. And since the schools dropped the ball, others picked it up and ran with it, and our seven-year-olds are wearing thongs and crop tops and running around the playground singing about sex. It’s sadder than we can even comprehend.

Oh, I don’t knock their music. I like a lot of it. It’s just sad that they have nothing in addition to it. They have no firm musical foundation, so they really can’t say “this is good because. . . . ” or “this is terrible because. . . . .”

And when they hear a song, they don’t associate it with a person, or a place, or an occurence, or where they were or what they were doing. They associate it with a video. Their musical memories revolve around seeing a celebrity lip-synch.

No wonder so many things just plain ‘suck.’ They suck, because they’re bad and there’s no background or knowledge about why they suck.

Personally, I believe that messing with music programs in schools sucks, and I CAN tell you why. And I just did.

Our children deserve real music.

Our children deserve real music.

Our children deserve real music.  They need and want it.  It would make their lives magical.

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Quotation Saturday: New Beginnings and Fresh Starts

quotation saturday, mamacita's blog, jane goodwinMamacita says:  It’s the first Saturday of the new year – it’s time for some fresh starts. Let’s all try to give ourselves, and each other, a break, shall we, and start fresh with things that need a fresh start.

It’s never too late to begin again.  Let’s make the New Year a time for new beginnings.

1. If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. — Mary Pickford

2. When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out. –David Weatherford

3. Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. –Eddie Rickenbacker

4. One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered. –Michael J. Fox

5. Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish. –Cecile Springer

6. It takes chances to make changes. –Danielle Ballentine   beginning

7. Excellence is the result of habitual integrity. –Lenny Bennett

8. Whenever you feel that something as simple as a smile or a kind act will go unnoticed, do it anyway. You never know how much it might change someone else’s life. –Erin Bishop

9. Square your shoulders to the world, be not the kind to quit; It’s not the load that weighs you down but the way you carry it. –Unknown

10. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. –Mark Twain

11. The biggest mistake you can make is continually fearing you will make one. –Unknown

12. If I were asked to give what I consider the most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’ –Ann Landers

13. A true hero does what needs to be done and needs no other reason. –Unknown

14. We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life. –James Van Praagh

15. The impossible is often untried. –Unknown

16. People whine, ‘I haven’t succeeded because I haven’t had the breaks.’ You create your own breaks. –Chuck Norris

17. Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. –Cadet maxim, West Point, New York

18. I have always tried to be true to myself, to pick those battles I felt were important. My ultimate responsibility is to myself. I could never be anything else. –Arthur Ashe

19. Make yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or pat on the back just might pull someone back from the edge. –Carmelia Elliot

20. A successful life doesn’t require that we’ve done the best, but that we’ve done our best. –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

21. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
–Henry David Thoreau

22. Live your life so that if someone says ‘Be yourself’ it’s good advice. –Robert Orben

end-and-beginning23. Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot. –Clarence Thomas

24. Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded. — Anonymous

25. . . . isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? — L.M. Montgomery

26. The beginning is always today. –Mary Shelley

27. Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. — Meister Eckhart

28. The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. — C.C. Scott

29. The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. — Ivy Baker

30. Remember tonight.. for it is the beginning of always. — Unknown

Remember this: you can always begin again.  You can always begin again.  It’s only the end if you choose not to begin again.

Your call.

Happy New Year To You All!

Happy New Year 2013, Scheiss Weekly


Mamacita says: Happy New Year, dear friends, both seen and unseen, both here and elsewhere.  Happy New Year to you all.

I’ve been blogging for almost twelve years now. I’ve made many new friends, some of whom I’ve met in real life. However, and I’ve said this before but that doesn’t prevent me from saying it again, my blogosphere friends I’ve never actually met are just as real to me as if they lived next door. Bloggers have redefined “real life.” There are many different levels of real life now, and they’re all real.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and positive New Year. I hope nothing bad happens to any of you, and I hope you are all safe, and healthy, and happy, every single day. You, and everybody who is precious to you.

Ah, the New Year’s song. . . .This song always makes me tear up.  Even back before I knew what it meant, something about it was both sad, and happy, and sentimental.  Harry Burns tried Auld Lang Syneto explain it to Sally Albright, but his explanation was more desperation than fact.  Robert Burns could be like that.  Remember, you’ve quoted a line from his poem about a louse crawling on a woman’s hair all your adult life:  “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!”  (You do NOT need that translated, right?)  I thought not.

when harry met sally, new year's eve

Harry and Sally at the New Year’s party

Here is Robert Burns’  (no relation to Harry Burns) most famous poem.  It was set to music years later. (traditional folk melody.)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, (Should old acquaintances be forgotten,)

And never brought to mind (And never remembered?)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And the days of auld lang syne. (And days of long ago.)

And surely ye ‘ll be your pint’ stowp (And surely you will pay for your pint)

And surely I ‘ll be mine (And surely I’ll pay for mine)

And we ‘ll take a cup o’ kindness yet (We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet) (booze)

auld-lang-syneFor auld lang syne (for the days of long ago.)

We twa hae run about the braes (We two have run around the hillsides)

And pou’d the gowans fine (and pulled the daisies fine)

But we ‘ve wander’d monie a weary fit (But we have wandered many a weary foot)

Sin’ auld lang syne. (Since the days of long ago.)

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn (We two have paddled in the stream)

The old year passes and the new year begins. . . .

The old year passes and the new year begins. . . .

Frae morning sun till dine (From noon ‘till dinner time)

But seas between us braid hae roar’d (But seas between us broad have roared)

Sin’ the days of auld lang syne (Since the days of long ago)

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere (And there’s a hand, my trusty friend)

And gie ‘s a hand o’ thine (And give us a hand of yours)

And we ‘ll tak a right guid-willie waught (And we will take a goodwill draught)(that means, take a drink together)

New Year's Auld Lang SyneFor auld lang syne (For the days of long ago)

[CHORUS]For auld lang syne, my dear (For the days of long ago, my dear)

For auld lang syne (For the days of long ago)

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet (We’ll take a cup of kindness yet) (booze)

For auld lang syne (For the days of long ago.)

To answer the question of whether or not old acquaintances should ever be forgotten, the answer is, most emphatically, “NO.”

Not till the Alzheimer’s makes me say “Oh Baby” to the nursing home orderlies.

I love you, dear friends. And I wish you were all here so we could take a right guid willie waught together. I’m really up for some good willie waught.

A right guid Willie Waught

All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! ~Edward Payson Powell

Holidays Should Be About Love

Mamacita says: Holidays should be about love, not resentment.  Holidays should be about charity, the original, true meaning of charity, which is that same love.  Love – charity – should not be limited by yours or anyone else’s belief system.  Love is love.  Put limitations on it and it’s no longer pure, and if it’s not pure, it’s not love. All seasons are about love, and no season of love is ever over.  Whether or not you celebrate Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with being Santa Claus for someone. Call it whatever you wish: just call it something, and go forth and do it. Letting your soul curl up into a ball of resentment because YOUR religion, or lack of such, doesn’t “do” Christmas is a waste of time, a waste of emotion, a waste of heart, a waste of zeal, and a waste of YOU.

Charity means love.

Charity means love.

“Charity” doesn’t mean “giving to the poor and needy;” it means LOVE, and love covers all bases. Using a belief system to rationalize your own personal whatevers is a cop-out, plain and simple. There are people out there who need you, and to walk on by because they said or did something that “offended” you is . . . okay, I’ll say it: it’s evil. Selfish and evil.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? — George Eliot

The three stages of man:

1. He believes in Santa Claus

2. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus

3. He IS Santa Claus.

Good parents ARE Santa Claus

Good parents ARE Santa Claus

That struck me as being funny, and true. And also, even, a little bit sad, and I’m not sure why. Poignancy is always a combination of emotions, and knowing something wonderful is temporary makes us sad, even while we revel in it.

I am Santa Claus. And I do NOT want to ever let the people I love down, at Christmas or any other time. But I also realize that the people we love most have the most potential for hurting. And for being hurt. Any people who are emotionally involved have tremendous power over each other. I hope we all try to use that power only for good.

You know, like Superman. Superman used his powers for good. Unless he was under the influence of kryptonite, in which case he became a flying armageddon. I’ve met many human kryptonite chunks, working tirelessly to promote only their own beliefs and working just as tirelessly to tear down everybody else’s. They work so hard at destroying that they’ve no time left for building up.

Let us never allow the influence of ‘something else’ to turn us into anything other than good.

“Something else” being possibly another person, or just, something else. “Under the influence” is “under the influence,” whatever outside ‘something else’ is influencing us.

You are Santa Claus for someone. Do not let them down. The people you know, the people you love, the people you know AND love, and people you don’t even know, need you to be Santa Claus. Nameless, faceless children need you. They need you badly. If you’ve got a biscuit, please give someone half.

No belief system in the universe is a reason NOT to be Santa for someone.

And if you are a person who does not believe in this mysterious spirit of generosity we call Santa Claus, then, um, uh, hmmm. . . . . okay, I’ll say it. You are stupid. Grow up and become Santa Claus. Somewhere out there is a child who desperately needs your powers. It might be your own child, or it might be a stranger’s. What difference does it make what child it is? Get out there and make someone happy. Or, at least, happier. Make a difference. Ho ho ho.

I’ll go even farther: If you are the kind of person who gets all huffy and offended and indignant because someone dared to wish you well in a language not suited to your personal belief system, shame on you. You’re angry because someone DARED wish you well? How dare YOU!!!!! How dare you throw someone’s sincere good wishes back into his/her face!!!!!

Now, get out there and make someone happy. If you have no children, go borrow some.

Life is so fleeting; why waste any of it in offended huffiness? We should all be trying our best to add to life, not suck the wonder out of it.

Don't waste your life being offended.

Don’t waste your life being offended.

Oh, and fair warning: if you don’t like the tone of this post, suck it up. The holiday season isn’t over yet, and easily offended people are one of my favorite targets.

They’re the whiny kid on the playground who is good for a show every time he/she doesn’t get his/her own way.

Is that you? I hope not. Such reactions are ugly in a child, but even uglier in an adult. But if it is, I’ll say it again: shame on you.

Santa is a symbol, a representation of a person who lives to help others. He’s a role model for us all.

Bring it on.

Another Christmas Day Has Come and Gone. . . .

Mamacita says:  . . . and so another Christmas Day has come and gone. The day after Christmas always seems sad to me. Christmas itself takes such a long time to get here; the calendar turns to fall and fall brings thoughts of winter and winter without Christmas would be exactly the horror C.S. Lewis paints it to be. We need December in all of its holy and secular incarnations. It gives us hope. Reasons to go on. As Allison Kitchell says, in the Christmas novel What Child Is This that I’ve already quoted several times but am not finished quoting yet because it’s packed so full of great ones, “December is the crown.”

Christmas takes a long time getting here, but it’s over in the wink of an eye. It’s over. 24 sixty-minute hours made up of sixty-second minutes, but the day went by so fast it made my head spin. On Christmas Day, we live in hyperspace. I could almost see the clock hands spinning around and around, and it seems as though the chimes were ringing every few minutes instead of on the hour.  It comes too fast and it’s over too soon.

It’s over, but it’s the crown.   December is the crown.

December is the crown.

December is the crown.

Einstein was right: it’s all relative. Days like today yesterday go so fast. Christmas Day has the same shelf life as any other day, but it’s always thus with the things we love most: time passes so much more quickly when we don’t want it to. If only we had the power to slow time down a bit when wonderful things are happening. . . but then, when wonderful things are happening to somebody, someone on the other side of the world, or the street, is weeping and broken-hearted. It’s all relative. And when we know something lovely is fleeting, we tend to appreciate it more.

A helping hand is never amiss.

A helping hand is never amiss.

We are all fleeting. Therefore, let us all try harder to be kind, and honest, and considerate, and helpful, slower to pass judgment, quicker to assume the best of people, more inclined to work hard, be braver, more trustworthy, and cleaner, so that anyone and everyone we encounter is encouraged by our lives. Let us all try to pay attention to each other, and bolster each other, and do our fair share and then some, and extend a helping hand whenever we possibly can. Today, it’s someone else who needs help. Tomorrow, it might be us.

Because it’s fleeting.  It’s all so very fleeting.

Let’s do the Time Warp again.

It’s Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer!

therefore I DO bless itMamacita says: Ebenezer and Dick had a boss who understood good business, because good business treats its employees like gold.  Charles Dickens’ Fezziwig embodies the good boss who runs a good business. I really don’t know how anyone could ever say it better than Charles Dickens, unless it was Ma Ingalls, who assured Laura and Mary that if everyone wanted everyone else to be happy all the time, then every day would be Christmas. I believe this to be absolutely true.

Haven’t you noticed by now that almost every time you hope and wish and strive for someone else’s happiness, you end up happier yourself? Sometimes, not getting what we wanted for Christmas means we get something else that’s even better. As far as I’m concerned, helping and watching others get what THEY wanted is the best part of the season.  Old Fezziwig embodied Christmas far more than any church or dressed-up family or lifeless sermon or decorated mall or a store that stays open on Christmas Day or stressed-out parent or pageants or showy concerts or majestic decorations.  Pomp and circumstance are not Christmas.  Old Fezziwig understood.  Old Fezziwig was a living sermon that really meant something.

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig dancing at their staff party.

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig dancing at their staff party.

It disgusts me out every pore of my very large body bothers me when people keep Christmas contained in a house or – far worse – in a church. Dressing up and hanging out with other dressed-up people all of whom are going home to near-opulence, comparatively speaking, and feeling justified and holy because they went through the motions and recited the words without actually doing anything about them really doesn’t seem like Christmas proper to me. These days, a lot of Christmas services are more like recitals and concerts with divas and prima donnas and spotlighted performers than anything spiritual or meaningful. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were meant to be given away, not draped around the church. How many of those overdressed bedecked people plan to do anything for anyone but themselves this Christmas? I am not impressed by glitzy ceremony and diva performances at church.  A mega-church isn’t a church.

This isn't a church. It's a show.

This isn’t a church. It’s a vulgar show.

I am also disgusted that the very places that most need volunteers and donations are near capacity with the needy, and extremely short-handed with the volunteers on church nights. Shouldn’t those be the very times the most people gather together to DO for others, not just sit around and talk about it?

Preaching to the choir only reassures and reaffirms already-held thoughts and beliefs. Festooning a church with expensive fake greenery and shiny things seems an outrageous use of money that would be better spent supplying a soup kitchen or providing Christmas for several families in the area. On Christmas, why not shut the church’s door and send the church’s people out to actually, physically, help real people in their own areas who are in desperate need?

If all you did this season was decorate, purchase, bake, dress up, party, sing/play/work/plan only at/for church, or sit at home relaxing in front of the TV, shame on you. Next year, try to do better than that. Next year, don’t dress up and head for the mall or the church (unless it’s headquarters for the donations which you are going to help distribute); bundle up and get out there and make Christmas really happen for people who might not know what you’ve known for years. Don’t preach to them; let your actions do that for you. Action, people, not words. Words can be empty. Words ARE empty without accompanying action.

If your church’s Christmas focuses on the shop window glitter, performance, and in-house words/deeds/actions, maybe it’s time to seek a real church – one that has substance behind the glowing windows: a church that encourages its worshipers to walk out of the church and into the lives of the people.

Words are cheap. Action takes effort. Without the effort, Christmas isn’t the only meaningless thing in people’s lives.

Seriously. If your church doesn’t know the names of almost every person in its immediate neighborhood, what good is it? What good is it if it concentrates on sending packages and money overseas and ignores the needy right across the street?

It’s better to do a kindness at home than go afar to burn incense. –Chinese proverb

Heh. She said “dick.”