PART 3 IN A SERIES…
We continue to work with Little Levi on his speech. We have learned so much about ‘Childhood Apraxia of Speech”, and one of these is that music is especially hard for a child with Apraxia. The rhythm that carries the song along does not allow for stops and starts between the words in which to get ready for the next word. It has thrilled us that Levi loves listening to music. And we have begun to notice that he is able to throw in certain words in the right places and he can definitely get the last word in at the proper time! We have played music for him since he was a newborn. All kinds of music…kids songs, praise and worship, classical, rock and roll, folk, oldies…whatever is handy. ( And, believe it or not, he asks me to play “the blue song” for him some mornings. He is refering to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Because there are no words, it is easy for him to ‘feel’ the sweet violin or the pounding drums or the tinkling piano. He and I are quite good at conducting this piece. 🙂 He will go and play with his cars and then come back to me when he hears a part that particularly interests him.) He hears music in his Sunday School class and his favorite there is This Little Light of Mine! He and his Mom are learning the ABC song…and he can get all the way through it with just a couple of prompts! He also can sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. He and I have our own special song. I have sung to him, since he was an infant, the song ‘I Love You A Bushel and A Peck’. Now, we sing it together, complete with motions. We also have some silly, nonsense songs that I have made up that we sing over and over and over. His favorite: The Breakfast Song: “Cows make milk. Chickens make eggs. Pigs make bacon. And Levi makes it GONE!” This is such a sweet, sweet time for us. I love sharing music with him.
So, therefore, I have been thinking a lot about the benefits of music for the very young. We who were fortunate to be exposed to music in early life have surely reaped the benefits. We learn so much when we listen to music. Music inspires creative movement. It calms and helps us rest. It teaches listening skills. Through music children can learn about patterns and movement, about ryhmes and new vocabulary. Music is a language. It helps develop memory, and we know that music is involved in the expression of feelings. And, these early musical experiences are filtered through all the other learning that is going on at that time a child’s development.
Have you ever wondered why you get a portion of a song stuck in your head for days on end, but never sentences from a magazine or a conversation from a movie you just watched? That’s because music stimulates memory like nothing else. Remember how when we were a kids, we were taught all kinds of songs and tunes to help us remember stuff? The alphabet song, the planets’ order in the solar system, the correct colors of the rainbow? Music is a powerful memory trigger, making it one of the best learning tools there is.
When we think about the things we know about music and how young children and even older children learn, it makes sense that these words and music learned at this early age set up in a part of our brains that hold on to them and keep them there until they need to be recalled. (This works even with teenagers, as you’ll see in a later paragraph).
I don’t remember a lot of details about early music experiences that I had, but those I do remember come from church. That is where I remember singing “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” too many years ago to say…but definitely in my preschool years. This was in a little country church, Memphis Baptist, a few miles outside of Dothan. (Lest I sound condescending, it is now a much larger congregation, and certainly would not be called a’ little country church’ these days!) My grade school years were here, too. At that time there was a basement under the sanctuary and that is where the choirs met. I recall many songs from that time in my life…”He Owns the Cattle On A Thousand Hills“…”Do Lord“, “Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone” “Every Day With Jesus”, (the fun version)…I could go on and on if I let my mind wander a while. (Which is dangerous because it doesn’t always like to come back!) I can even see the front of the book we sang from and see those shaped notes on the page! It is here, I’m sure, that I first heard the wonderful old hymns for the first time. And, it was here that their words and messages began to set up residence in my brain.
It’s amazing to me how I can not have heard a song in years, but when I hear the melody, or hear someone say the title or a phrase from the hymn…I can almost recall the words verbatim! I listen to a lot of oldies music from the 50’s and 60’s and a lot of singer/songwriter type music. So often I can tell you where I was and what I was doing at the time. Bet you can do this too! And, these songs, too, have me singing along easily because I remember all the words!
[This is not a piece about popular music of today….but, I’d like to go on the record as saying I despise rap and hip hop music. I detest any song I can not easily hear and understand the words. And, I abhor the music where it sounds as if one is having and extremely personal experience which should not be broadcast to the world! That is all. I could easily give you a nice list to stay away from if you would like, but no…you can figure it out. All that being said, there are some nice singer/songwriter type artists out now that do a fine job. Now. Really. That is all]
My parents were avid church goers and believed that you support what goes on at your church…everything that goes on at your church! So we were there Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other time they thought there may be a function that could remotely involve us in some way! I’m not complaining…my friends were at church, people there loved and cared for me, I was happy while I was there… I loved going to church! As a member of a Baptist church, there was always music…you could not have a service of any kind without starting with a song or two and maybe a special solo, duet or trio by the singers in the group. So, I heard these hymns over and over and over and over and they became ingrained in the furrows of my brain. And, that is a good thing. I can still recall ‘specials’ that my Mom would sing and many of the words because she would practice so much at home. Joy and I could have joined in and made it a trio!
I find myself in Hobby Lobby (a Christian company, by the way), quite often, as it is one of my favorite places to shop. They always have Christian music playing softly in the background…just instrumental. Several time I have caught myself actually singing the words out loud! And, it totally catches me by surprise. Because I am usually so caught up in my shopping, that I don’t really notice that there is even music of any kind playing. It’s as if my ‘spirit’ recognizes the music and sings out with what it hears. As it is always praise and worship music…I like to think my ‘spirit just connects itself to the music because it is so familiar, even if I am not consciously thinking about it. Does anything I said in this paragraph even make sense? I just don’t quite have the words to express what I think about this. But, it is something that makes me very happy.
Whenever Joy and I are together on a trip, we always end up singing as we drive. Well, we don’t do it so much anymore…because one or more of our children would probably have their eyes roll completely out of their heads if we sang like we wanted to! Anyway, we had a lady who taught our Youth choir at Southside during a time when we were without a music minister. Her name was Eunice Williams. Now, she and her husband, Robert, and our parents and the Peacocks were very close friends. So close, that there were no Mrs. or Mr. with these adults…they were our aunts and uncles! Anyway, Aunt Eunice was also our church organist as well as my piano teacher. Well, she stepped into the void when we were without a music minister at church and had no leader for the youth choir. I can still remember the musical we did…and many of the songs. It was called ‘Come Alive‘. But, the song that Joy and I sing (and beautifully, I may add) is Christ is With Me All the Way. This was an anthem she taught us.
CHRIST IS WITH ME ALL THE WAY
Christ is with me all the way Christ is all the love I need,
If I walk with Him each day. And His voice my heart will heed.
Willing is He to share my load None just like Him ever be,
As I dwell in this abode. He no stranger is to me.
When I’m troubled, tempted, tried, But a trusted friend and true,
Then my cares to Him, I confide. My help in all I try and do.
And I hear His sweet voice say, Leading me in ways He trod,
“Lo, I am with you alway.” Christ the Man and Christ the God.
Aren’t these just the most wonderful words for a teenage to learn and commit to memory? And, I guess the point I’m trying to make here, is that I didn’t TRY to commit it to memory. It happened naturally. As with all the hymns I sang in worship from the time I was a child…it was the repetition and the melody and the joy of the music that seared itself to my heart and soul. And, those songs are there and there they will stay. Ready to float to the top when I need encouragement, or comfort or maybe just looking for the words of praise that fit the situation.
Do you get the same feeling from all the music that comes from the big praise and worship sessions that most churches have gone to today? For me, the answer is no. I don’t get the same awe and reverence and joy from singing this music as I do the old hymns. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that I reside in my 60’s now. But, not really. I think young worshippers and new worshippers enjoy the newer music more. So, that is what is most familiar to them. I’m in no way saying that there is anything wrong with this music…in fact I really like some of it…but I do think for those of us who are used to worshipping in an old, traditional Baptist church….a mix is very nice. I find the newer songs to be very repetitive with tens of verses and hardly any melody to enjoy. But, again…that is just me! A church should have room for all those who wish to worship and all who do worship there should find it comfortable and uplifting. Give and take…a little of this and a little of that.
Well, I suppose, I have taken this subject of ‘hymns’ to as far a conclusion as I can. Perhaps you have gleaned a little information you may not have known. And, hopefully, I have added a little more of my own history to this blog to remind those who follow after me of how I felt about this beautiful music of God. Amen.
“I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be
in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1