Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Traditional and effective

The photo accompanying this post records one of these satisfying grandmother moments. I'd been holding Anna (4 weeks old) in the hope that she would drift off to sleep, but she didn't appear to be able to settle. Perhaps her sister was too interesting, or she just didn't want to miss out, but she was tired and scratchy and it was obviously time for the Wise Woman to make a reappearance - and sing.

I've written of this before, when I was singing to that lively three-year-old in the background (can't help feeling it wouldn't work now, but I'll return to that). This time I sang another lullaby, Watts' Cradle Song, to an American (I think) tune arranged by Mr B for our women's choir, 8+1. The melody is in the alto range, and I've had it on the brain for the past few weeks. The words were somewhat random , as I'm hopeless at remembering them, but phrases like "here's no ox about thy bed" seemed suitably soothing, and after gazing intently at me as I sang, Anna's eyes drooped and in no time at all she was sound asleep. She was sitting in this upright position, too, so the sense of communication was very real - until she flopped. I continued singing quietly as I put her to bed, and that was that.

I can't stress how important I think this live singing is for young children. It's not the same when nursery rhymes, lullabies and so on are played on CDs or - worse - distorted by electronic toys. The vibration, the tailoring of volume to the moment, the possibility for variety - these all contribute to what is, after all, as old as the hills.

Incidentally, big sister still loves to sing - though she does give me a row for using the traditional words as the end of Mary had a baby. You can't please all the people all of the time ...


  1. Wonderful pic, Chris!

  2. Aw...little Anna is precious! It must have been so satisfying to lull her to sleep with song. Mark plays guitar and music has always been quite alive here...mostly on-traditional, however! Oh the strange words we strung together when Michelle and Ben were tiny!

    Happy New Year Chris!