Singing Rounds with Children, Part Two

Confession :: Ever since reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, I’ve wanted to, you know, be the Trapp Family Singers.

A passel of kids.  Adventure.  Singing.

And the real von Trapps didn’t sing Do, Re, Mi, they sang Bach, Palestrina, des Prez. Real stuff.

And they had a farm.

So we have our passel of kids and a widening sense of adventure.  Now for the singing.  (Apparently the farm will have to wait).

We like to sing.  I was a vocal major, for pete’s sake.  Devo sang in a quartet/quintet through college.  In fact, my husband likes to sing so much that I’ve almost lost my ability to sing harmony.  Being a baritone (neither tenor, nor bass), he likes to sing a little of the alto line and a little of the tenor line.  And besides, someone has to sing the melody.

And our kids like to sing.  In fact, we often drive down the road with three children singing three different songs.  I should say four children, being that Kiri can drown us out with her own singing when she feels inspired.  (Baby singing, so darling.  So loud.)

Over Christmas, my Trapp Family Singer Dream suddenly came to life.  Suddenly we had three children who all loved to sing.  So we began to expand our Christmas repertoire, and for the first time our Advent tradition of singing O Come, O Come, Immanuel didn’t consist of two parents singing with several children looking on.

Last Christmas, two voices.  This Christmas, five.

Our time has come.

Time to get out the rounds again.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about Singing Rounds with Children.  It is one of my most popular posts.  And you can see from the publish date (April 2008) that we’ve been singing for years.

This spring, however, brought a magical leap in interest and ability and now we are on a higher plane in the Quest for Harmony.

For a couple of weeks, we spent hours singing rounds.  Hours.

The little girls would lie in bed and practice Jubilate Deo (often while Levi was singing something else entirely), until they could each sing their own part.

Meal times we would sing “For health and strength and daily bread…”, two to a part.

Every few days we would learn a new round, and then have the fun of trying to piece it together.  Amelie starts, then Lia, then Levi and I together.

Driving, waiting for friends to show up, any time that wasn’t filled with something else, we would sing.  Each person gets to pick which round they want to sing, until we’ve sung all we know.

Bach and Palestrina got a whole lot closer.

It really is magic to hear the voices of small children singing rounds, one to a part.  Not only the knowledge of the skill that takes, but also the beauty of hearing the individual voices inside the harmonies.

Rounds are the best way to learn the skills needed to sing harmony: singing your own part when everyone else is singing something different.  But because you’re singing a “song” (vs. a kind of tuneless “harmony”), it is easier to get the hang of holding your own.

Another favorite literary mention of round singing is in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Happy Golden Years where she and Almanzo go to singing school.  Laura could sing Three Blind Mice the longest because she had grown up singing it with Pa and Carrie and Grace.  {smile}

I wanted to update my list of Round Resources, namely adding the two books we love the most.

The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing.  We got this from our local library (it’s on my must-own list).  The title is not misleading: kids love to sing the rounds in this book.  I think we had this book checked out for three months out of the last twelve.  Lia will sit and sing through the book (making her own melodies for the ones she doesn’t know).  Amelie and Levi love the little pictures.  And the selection of rounds is just fantastic.  Get this one first.

The King’s Singers Book of Rounds, Canons, and Partsongs.  This book has many of the rounds featured in The Round Book.  It also has more difficult partsongs and songs that lean more heavily on the ‘classical’ side.  I own this one (the library didn’t have it).  This is the book that is going to carry us into the future.  But in the meantime, it also has many of the simpler songs we already know and love.  If you are only going to get one book for the duration, get this one.

And now for a list of the rounds we currently know (that I can remember).

  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Are You Sleeping?
  • For Health and Strength and Daily Bread
  • Sing, Sing Together
  • I Love the Flowers (this is a favorite)
  • White Coral Bells
  • Sweetly Sings the Donkey
  • Make New Friends
  • Kookaburra (another favorite)
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Jubilate Deo
  • There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl
  • Father, I Adore You
  • Come Into His Presence Singing Alleluia
  • Gaudeamus Hodie (Natalie Sleeth)
The intense learning period has ended and our new ability has become part of the normal. I tried to teach them a new round the other day, but Kiri was so inspired by the singing that no one could hear the melody over her voice.
We’ll keep singing and adding to our repertoire for the sheer joy and satisfaction of it.  Maria von Trapp paints lovely pictures of a family singing together and we’d like to create our own lovely pictures.
Next up :: Sight singing.  Some time next school year.

3 thoughts on “Singing Rounds with Children, Part Two

  1. Pingback: Singing Rounds with Children | spinning in my teacup

  2. Oh oh oh. I want to join you. Love this. And I need a sound clip of that loud baby voice. 🙂

  3. Can’t wait till the Von Kritzinger Family makes a singing appearance!!! Seriously, that will be awesome!

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