Monday, July 29, 2019

Folk Songs, some back-story

  Here is some of the backstory and supplemental information on AO and our use of folk songs for those who like that sort of thing.

Back when we first added folksongs to the AO curriculum, we only had one song per term. Although it had been done before, folksongs as part of the school curriculum was a new idea to many homeschoolers, and folksongs as part of a CM curriculum was a startling idea to others. They had not realized Miss Mason did this.

Although a Charlotte Mason education is not utilitarian by principle, still, many people wanted a utilitarian justification for including folk songs in their school day- what good will this do, why do they need to know this, and what is the purpose, that sort of thing.  The benefits of singing folk song are not utilitarian, and I personally find them so delightful that I find myself feeling inarticulate and dumb when I try to explain.  I also feel that the best way to learn the justification for singing folk songs is, well, , . just to start singing them and see what happens.  That's the hardest step for the reluctant parents who want convincing, but it's the most effective.

So we started with one folk song per term. Over time, many of our people, mostly those who tried them, quickly began to enjoy the folk songs and see the value in singing them.  They wanted more.So
we were able to add more than one song per term, which makes me very happy.

Btw, iust in case you have tried the folksongs in AO's line up and didn't find they resonated with you, don't give up.  There are thousands and thousands of folk songs from just as many traditions, cultures, and peoples.  There must be one that works for you and your family, because this singing of folk songs is a deeply human endeavor. There are illiterate cultures.  There are no cultures I have heard of with no music.  So look around and find some older, music of the people tradition that *does* speak to your children.  One more bit of freeby advice- don't decide too quickly *for* your children.  Unless there is a serious, well informed moral reason to object to a song, keep your opinions in check, engage cheerfully, and let the children develop their own tastes without relying on you to be their only curator for their relationship to folksongs.

 We originally started by relying on midi files, but in my defense, youtube didn't really start until a couple of years later.  Along the way as we improve and broaden our folksong selections, we hear more and more from families who are amazed at how much they add to their school days and family life in general.  Of course, there continue to be those  who don't see the benefit and aren't interested in just trying it out, and I remain inarticulate enough in this baffling (to me) recalitrance that I am unable to persuade those families that they are truly missing something special, a playful, happy part of the day as practical as a baby's laugh, but nearly as much of a blessing.  And so they continue to miss out, and I feel guilty about my inadequacies and a bit sad.


 There were once more than a few who liked the songs  well enough but were not convinced that Mason thought folk songs were of much importance (You might be surprised if I named names!) or doubted that she even used them in her schools.

 There is some evidence within the six volumes if you know what to look for, and more in her programmes and schedules. But the clearest evidence of all is found in a little journal nicknamed 'the plant' by those who edited, published, and subscribed to it.

 Charlotte Mason started a little college where she trained young women in her principles, equipping them to become teachers and governesses- and mothers! The school was called The House of Education.
 "In 1895, the House of Education Old Students' Association was formed to provide current and "old" students who were scattered abroad, opportunities to keep in touch and provide mutual support. In 1896 they began publishing the magazine, L'Umile Pianta, named after a plant growing near Ambleside, which Charlotte Mason admired for its ability to bend without breaking. This plant was also pictured on the House of Education's medal, with the motto "For the Children's Sake." The motto was used as the subtitle for the magazine. From 1896 to 1900 it was published twice each year; from 1901-1906 it came out three times per year and from 1907 onwards it was a quarterly. Issues were bound without covers or title pages." 
From the   Charlotte Mason Digital Archives at archive.org

 In  the September, 1911 edition of 'the plant', there is an article on folk music for children, where we read:
 "Some Excellent collections [of folk songs] are now published, but quite the best is a book by Rev. Baring Gould, who has collected the words of the songs in going through the country and getting the old people to sing to him the songs passed down from father to son. The music to these has been composed by M. Cecil Sharp, who has harmonised the exact melodies used by the people."

 That book is Folk Songs for Children or Schools, by Baring Gould, online here.
I have a playlist on youtube where I have been collecting recordings of the songs from this book, although I cannot guarantee that each of these is using precisely the same lyrics as Baring Gould did. He and Sharp sometimes tidied up their lyrics.

 There are several other L'Umile Pianta volumes that mention the use of folk songs and even suggest resources. I particularly like this one because the author not only recommends the Baring Gold volume and a handful of other folk song anthologies, she also recommends a few specific individual folk-songs, such as The Three Tailors (said by the author to be 'a charming song'), Strawberry Fair, The Three Wagoneers, the Three Sons, and Oh, No John.  I like looking at specific practices and recommendations because it helps me extrapolate some principles, but we do have to be careful not to mistake practice for principles.

 Since the author referred to the Three Tailors as a charming song, I especially wanted to know more about it. I found that Eugene Field worked it into a poem of his own. You can read it here. There is an old version sung here.

 The gist of the ballad is that three wine loving tailors try to trick a landlord into giving them free wine in exchange for magic tricks they do with a needle, but they aren't real tricks, and he sees through them and rewards them with a thimble full of wine and tells them to get drunk on that. Put out at their trick being used against them, they nail his ears to the door and ride away. (!)

 We're not doing that song in AO.
I personally wouldn't mind it so much.  I have a warped sense of humour and I like the macabre but I don't create the Folk Song line up for my own gratification and pleasure.  I try to keep in mind that we have thousands of others using our playlist. every year I think I've cleared the songs enough to suit everybody and every year I discover I missed something or somebody else has misunderstood something, or I am just am reminded anew that we can't please everybody all the time, and we each have to make decisions for our own families. But I try to consider how others might see these songs when making decisions.  It didn't take any thinking about it at all to recognize that a song about  3 rascals nailing the landlord's ears to the door because he won't let them get drunk for free and then stealing his wine and  riding off scot-free doesn't seem like a song the majority of our families would prefer to have their little ones sing.  Yet, remember, this is a song the author of the L'umile Pianta article described as a charming song!

 It's entirely possible that the version the L'umile Pianta author recommended as a charming song is different in some way. Or, since readership of L'Umile Pianta was a small and close-knit group, perhaps everybody knew the lyrics already, and they also knew the author of the article and it was an inside joke and she was being facetious. We can only know so much from merely reading these old archives, and must speculate to fill in the gaps.  Nothing wrong with a little bit of speculative filling in of gaps, so long as we speculate with humility and honestly and do not ever impose our speculations on others as authoritative statements of How Things Are You Silly Women Who Do Not Do As I Say.  (please giggle, just a little?)

 Another specific song recommend is Strawberry Fair, and the Baring Gold version is quite sweet:

 1 As I was going to Strawberry Fair,
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies, I met a maiden taking her ware,
Fol-de-dee! Her eyes were blue and golden her hair, As she went on to Strawberry Fair, Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-li-do, Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-dee.
2   "Kind sir, pray pick of my basket!" she said,
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies, "My cherries ripe, or my roses red,
Fol-de-dee ! My strawberries sweet, I can of them spare, As I go on to Strawberry Fair." Ri-fol, &c.
3   Your cherries soon will be wasted away,
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies, Your roses wither and never stay,
Fol-de-dee! 'Tis not to seek such perishing ware, That I am tramping to Strawberry Fair. Ri-fol, &c.
4   I want to purchase a generous heart,
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies, A tongue that is neither nimble nor tart.
Fol-de-dee! An honest mind, but such trifles are rare, I doubt if they're found at Strawberry Fair. Ri-fol, &c.
5   The price I offer, my sweet pretty maid,
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies, A ring of g. old on your finger displayed,
Fol-de-dee! So come, make over to me your ware In church to-day at Strawberry Fair. Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-li-do, Ri-fol, Ri-fol, Tol-de-riddle-dee.

However, this version is sanitized. The original is more risque (you can read the lyrics and listen to it here), and I can find only one example of the prettily sanitized Baring-Gold version on youtube.  That doesn't mean there aren't others, I just could not find them. So I could not really include this one, either.  Perhaps later somebody else will add some other renditions we could use.  Meanwhile.... You can listen to the one I found here and see what you think about why I didn't include it.

 Of course, there's no reason you can't use any folk song you like for your own family!  Please do!  The folk songs AO suggests are there to help you, not to restrict you.  If you are not a part of one of the English speaking nations with origins in England or one of its English speaking colonies, you should definitely be looking for folk songs in your own culture and language.  I can't really help you do this because that would be arrogant and ridiculous, since I have not the background knowledge necessary for that.  Ask your grandparents, your great aunts and uncles, the elderly relatives of friends and acquaintances, see if anybody has made a study of your culture's folk music (ask the music departments of your country's universities, check libraries if you have access to them, look for buskers in your town and ask them if they know any old songs.)Your elderly relatives would probably be thrilled to share what they know.

  I was deeply blessed and encouraged at our camp in TN this past summer when a lovely Brazilian mother living in America  told me that singing the native folk music of her home country had been a beautiful, rich way for her kids to connect with their grandparents back home, and improve their accents and vocabulary at the same time.  Singing folk songs connects generations, she told me, and it gave me goosebumps of delight to think about it, it really did, right then and there.  Singing folk songs connects generations. 

 Sing.  Sing together. Sing the  happy songs, the sad songs, the tragic songs, the silly songs, the work songs, the love songs, the ballads and the nonsensical songs.   Sing.

In my opinion, the primary principle for folksongs in a Charlotte Mason education is just that: sing them.  Sing them. This is about participatory, active, personal involvement, not a consumer or spectator activity.  It doesn't matter if you don't like how you sound. Sing anyway.  It doesn't matter if you've never done this before. Sing anyway. There are sound physiological reasons for this- singing increases happy hormones, reduces stress, regulates your breathing.  Research shows that singing together is an activity that improves bonding, strengthens relationships, and just makes people feel more connected to each other- and couldn't we all use more of that in a family? It doesn't take more time, it saves you time, as by taking time to sing fun folk songs together you not only get the benefits that come from the act of singing, you lighten your day, increasing the sense of cooperative, unified spirit as folk singing does will repay you by making the rest of your day go more smoothly.

Hymns also do this, but hymns are not usually pitched in the easy, suitable for children way that folk songs are. They aren't about silly situations, they don't have the seemingly meaningless but rhythmic fol de rol refrains that give children mouth music and play with sounds and syllables and rhyme scheme.  You can play around with folk songs, singing them together as you do chores, go on road trips, sit in the dark during a power outage,  playfully messing about with the lyrics to make them funny, to make them match what you are doing or things that are happening in your lives in ways that might feel irreverent should you try them with hymns. 

I know I've said all this before, but we also have new families who are hearing this for the first time.

Please, give them a fair trial if you haven't already and sing folk songs together.


Friday, July 5, 2019

AmblesideOnline Folksongs 2019-2020 School Year



 FOLK SONGS 2019-2020 School Year:

  term 1: 


1. The Happy Wanderer.
We sang this at AM CM Camp 2019, and it was a huge hit, campers could be heard humming it in the lunch line, singing it absently mindedly while stirring their coffee, and basically just spontaneously singing it everywhere, albeit sometimes against their will.  Please note the number of times you say ha ha is a purely personal matter.  Some sing five, some squeeze in seven. It doesn't matter.  Do what works for you.  This muppet version seems to be quite popular!  This version is also on my playlist and will be easier to follow along with.


 The Happy Wanderer
1.    I love to go a-wandering
 Along the mountain track 


And as I go,

 I love to sing 

My knapsack on my back



 [Chorus] 

Val-deri, val-dera

 Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 
Ha 
Val-deri, val-dera !
My knapsack on my back

2. I love to wander by the stream
 That dances in the sun 
So joyously it calls to me 
Come join my happy song 


[Chorus] 


Val-deri, val-dera

 Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 

Ha 
Val-deri, val-dera !
Come join my happy song

2.    I wave my hat to all I meet 


And they wave back to me 

And blackbirds call so loud and sweet 

From ev'ry green wood tree
[Chorus] 


Val-deri, val-dera

 Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha  

Val-deri, val-dera !
From every green-wood tree.




4. High overhead the skylarks wing

They never rest at home

But just like me they love to sing
As o’er the world we roam.

[Chorus] 


Val-deri, val-dera

 Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 

Ha 
Val-deri, val-dera !
As o’er the world we roam!




5. Oh, may I go a-wandering 

Until the day I die 

Oh, may I always laugh and sing 
Beneath God's clear blue sky






[Chorus] 

Val-deri, val-dera

 Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 
Ha 
Val-deri, val-dera !
Beneath God's clear blue sky

2. Go Get the Ax-  This is a silly, jolly song that doesn't have to mean anything. It's just fun to be silly sometimes.   The same aged children who think it's funny to imagine nailing jello to a wall, or who laugh at jokes about how does the teflon stick to the pan when nothing sticks to teflon will probably most appreciate this song.  

To start your family off, you might have fun watching this Bugs Bunny clip.  
Another you-tube version


Peeping through the knot-hole
In Grandma's Wood Leg
Who will wind the clock
When I am gone?
Go get the ax

There's a flea in Lizzie's ear
And a boy's best friend is his mother.

I jumped out the window
A second story window
Why do they build the shore
So near the ocean?
Who cut the sleeves out of
Dear old daddy's vest?
And dug up Fido's bones to build the sewer?


A Horse stood around with its
Feet upon the ground
Oh, who will wind the clock
When I am gone?
Go get the ax
There's a fly on Lizzie's ear
And a boy's best friend is his mother.



3. The Foolish Boy, also known as the Swapping Song, Wing wing waddle, and there are a few other variations as wing wang waddle became something like wim wam wobble.

1. My father died and I cannot tell how, 
He left me six horses to follow the plough. 

 With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom. 

 2.   I sold my six horses and bought me a cow,
 I'd fain have a fortune, but didn't know how. 

 With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom. 

 3.   I sold my cow and bought me a calf, 
I'd fain have a fortune, but I lost a half.  

With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom.

 4.    I sold my calf and I bought me a cat ; 
The pretty thing by my chimney sat. 

 With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom. 

 5,   I sold my cat and I bought me a mouse ;
 He fired his tail and he burnt down my house. 

 With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom.

 6.  I have nothing to buy, and I've nothing to sell, 
And how I shall live, I am sure I cannot tell. 

 With a wing-wang-waddle, O! 
Jack sold his saddle O! 
 Blossy boys, bubble O ! 
under the broom.

The above lyrics are from the Sabine Baring Gould songbook recommended by some of Miss Mason's teachers, as seen in their magazine,  L'Umile Pianta.

Youtube:  I really don't like how this one sounds, but it has the right lyrics: https://amzn.to/2XJrRuh

This one is prettier, but the lyrics are a bit different.  This really should not matter, as you are not going be using the youtube video forever, but only as a temporary walking cane to help you learn the tune quickly, so you can sing it on your own with whatever lyrics you prefer.



Wim Wim Wobble-O is a similar version here done by preschool or kindergarten teacher Dany Rosevear.  Bookmark her, she is a wonderful resource for English folk songs.
Here are the lyrics she uses:


Strim-strim-strobble-O,
I sold the horses and bought me a cow,
So I sold the cow and bought me a calf, I sold my calf and bought me a pig,
The poor little thing it never grew big. I sold my pig and bought me a hen, I sold that hen and bought me a cat,
The pretty little creature by the chimney corner sat. I sold the cat and bought a mouse, I sold my mouse and bought me a mole, 



Term 2:



1. Tenting tonight on the old campground (an American Civil war song from Tennessee, where we held our camp this year):

https://youtu.be/hij-e1a3z_c


Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground lyrics

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight

Wishing for the war to cease

Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight, tenting on the old camp ground

verses:

We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home
And friends we love so dear

(chorus)

We've been tenting tonight on the old camp ground
Thinking of days gone by
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand
And the tear that said "Goodbye"

(chorus)

We are tired of war on the old camp ground
Many are dead and gone
Of the brave and true who've left their homes
Others been wounded long

(chorus)

We've been fighting today on the old camp ground
Many are lying near
Some are dead and some are dying
Many are in tears

(chorus)





Or you might prefer Preaching on the Old Campground by the inimitable Mississippi John Hurt.  It has the same tune, but simplified, and with a simpler set of lyrics.  (also here)

We're preaching tonight on the old campground
Preaching on the old campground
Preaching tonight, preaching tonight, 
Preaching on the old campground.


Then substitute praying, singing, moaning (or mourning, I'm not sure), 



2. Shake Sugaree 


Have a little song
Won't take long
Sing it right
Once or twice

Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Pawn my watch
Pawn my chain
Pawn everything that was in my name

Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Pawn by buggy
Horse and cart
Pawn everything that was on my lot

Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Pawn my chair.
Pawn my bed
Ain't got nowhere to lay my head

Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Pawn my tobacco
Pawn my pipe
Pawned everything that was in my sight
Oh, lordy me
Didn't I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned

Everything I got is done and pawned

Elizabeth Cotton, the creator of Freight Train, wrote this with her grandchildren, and her grand-daughter Brenda, age 12, is probably the voice we're hearing on the youtube version.  More about this song and other variations and versions here.
I first heard it over 20 years ago, on Taj Mahal's album for kids (Shake Sugaree, Taj Mahal sings and plays for childrenYou can hear the single here.

While working on this list, I've been listening to the glorious voice of Rhiannan Giddens, possibly about a hundred times in the last 23 hours.  I cannot get enough of her gorgeous voice.

3.  Health to the Company.  Please bear with me on this one.  It's been a family favourite for over 20 years.  I realize that at first glance, it appears to be a drinking song, and for many of you, that will be fine.  However, it doesn't *have* to be. If you can't celebrate, feast, and be merry with your family over grapejuice and ginger-ale, you're doing it wrong.  Most of the years we sang this song the wee lass sitting on my knee with a smile on her countenance was my sixth daughter (and there's still none can excel for her style or her beauty).  
Have fun with it, dance a jig, spring a little joyful exuberance into your lives.  Or choose another song or repeat an old favourite. Your choice.  Here are the lyrics:

 Health to the Company
Kind Friend and Companions, '
Come join me in rhyme, 
Come lift up your voices, 
In chorus with mine, 
Come lift up your voices, 
all grief to refrain, 
For we may or might never, 
all meet here again 
Here's a health to the company 
and one to my lass, 
Let us drink and be merry,
 all out of one glass, 
Let us all drink and be merry, 
all grief to refrain For we may or might never,
 all meet here again 
Here's a health to the wee lass,
 that I love so well,
 For her style and her beauty, 
sure none can excel, 
There's a smile on her countenance, 
as she sits on my knee, 
There's no man in this wide world, 
as happy as me, 
Here's a health to the company, 
and one to my lass 
Let us drink and be merry, 
all out of one glass, 
Let us drink and be merry, 
all grief to refrain 
For we may or might never, 
all meet here again, 
Our ship lies at anchor, 
she's ready to dock, 
I wish her safe landing, 
without any shock,
 If ever I should meet you,
 by land or by sea,
 I will always remember, 
your kindness to me,
 Here's a health to the company 
and one to my lass,
 Let us drink and be merry,
 all out of one glass, 
Let us all drink and be merry, 
all grief to refrain 
For we may or might never, 
all meet here again

Health to the Company, Chieftains


        During your Christmas break, try a carol you may be less familiar with:
                    

                     Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming and/or It Came Upon a Midnight Clear



term 3:


https://youtu.be/ND7W7Yxo7GU

Little Brown Dog
Oh once I had a little dog, his color it was brown
I taught him for to whistle, to sing and dance and run
His legs they were fourteen yards long, his ears so very wide
Around the world in half a day, upon him I could ride. 

Sing Tarry-O Day, Sing, Autumn to May. 

Oh once I had a little frog, he wore a vest of red
He'd lean upon his silver cane, a top hat on his head
He'd speak of far off places, of things to see and do,
Of all the Kings and Queens he'd met while sailing in a shoe. 

Sing Tarry-O Day, Sing, Autumn to May. 

Oh once I had a flock of sheep, they grazed upon a feather
I'd keep them in a music box from wind or rainy weather
And every day the sun would shine, they'd fly all through the town
To bring me back some golden rings, candy by the pound. 

Sing Tarry-O Day, Sing, Autumn to May. 

Oh once I had a downey swan, she was so very frail
She sat upon an oyster shell and hatched me out a snail
The snail had changed into a bird, the bird to butterfly
And he who tells a bigger tale would have to tell a lie. 

Sing Tarry-O Day, Sing, Autumn to May. 

 

Once upon a time in Arkansas
An old man sat at his little cabin door
And he fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear
a jolly old tune that he played by hear
it was raining hard
by the fiddler didn't care
he sawed away at the popular air
and his roof tree leaked like a waterfall
but it didn't seem to bother the man at all.

a traveler was riding by that day
and he stopped to hear him a-practicin' away
the cabin was afloat and his feet were wet but still the old man didn't seem to fret
so the stranger said now the way  it seems to me
you'd better mend your roof, said he, 
but the old man said as he played away
I could'n't mend it now, it's a rainy day.

This is obviously the tune of bringing home a baby bumble bee.  You could sing that if you prefer. There are multiple versions of this using the same tune.  Don't fret too much about finding the perfect version.  This is true of all the folk songs.





3. How Many Miles to London Town (also sometimes How Many Miles to Babylon). It's a song, a game, and/or a simple dance.  I have played it in the living room with five grandchildren.  It would be a good choice for a co-op group to do together.  More here, including a score and a recording:
https://www.efdss.org/efdss-education/re...ondon-town

HEre's a youtube video showing a group of children performing the actions/steps to the song.

How many miles to Babylon (or London Town)
Three Score and Ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes and back again.

Open the gates to let me through
open the gates to let me through
Open the gates to let me through
So I can travel on.

Not without a beck and a boo (or bow)
Not without a beck and a boo
Not without a beck and a boo
Will I open the gate to let you through.

Here's your beck and here's your boo
Here's your beck and here's your boo
Here's your beck and here's your boo
Now open the gate and let me through.


Here is my youtube playlist for the year's folksongs.



Amazon Affiliate Links, however, if you have Amazon Prime or another streaming option, you can listen to most of these for free.  I could not find a satisfactory link to HOw Many Miles, but here are the others:

Happy Wanderer, sung by Bill Staines.  It has all the verses but changes 'beneath God's clear blue sky' to 'beneath the clear blue sky.'  A bit slower than the versions in my youtube play list.  Also has a hint of yodeling in a few of the choruses.  Or this version by Charlie Hope. She sings clearly and a bit faster than Staines, but leaves out the last verse.

Go Get the Axe

Wing-wang-waddle, The Foolish Boy, or the swapping song by Shirley Elizabeth Collins
This version has all the right lyrics, but I find the sound incredibly irritating.  You can also find it on youtube to see what you think.    Definitely try before you buy. 

 Shake Sugaree sung by Rhiannon Giddens   Read more about Rhiannon Giddens here.

Tenting Tonight, by Lightening in a Jar or Preaching Tonight by Mississippi John Hurt

The Little Brown Dog (or Autumn to May)

Chieftains, Health to the Company

Arkansas Traveller, by the Rocking Horse Players