When I Get the Urge to Write a Song…

field of flagsI woke this morning wanting to prepare something to teach our ward’s Primary to sing for Memorial Day.

A poem I wrote a couple of years ago, for Year-Round Read-Aloud, Read-Along Rhymes: Celebrating Holidays and Seasons, came to mind. Titled “Honor,” it is about a child’s personal decision to respect his country’s flag, and serve the country in honor of others who have served.

It Doesn’t Usually Go Like That

Usually, when I write a song, I write the words and music at the same time, and the music influences what the words have to be. This time, I was trying to set music to an already written lyric, and it didn’t fit nicely into any normal singing scheme.

With two verses of six lines each, only the third, fourth and fifth lines rhyme. But in both verses, the sixth line is an exact repeat of the second line. So, at least I had a natural place to repeat a rhythm, and decided the melody in the sixth line could answer the melody in the second line.

Skirting Danger

Danger loomed in the poem’s first line, “Whenever I see my country’s flag.” There are two familiar songs that start out, “Whenever I hear the song of a bird,” and “Whenever I think about Pioneers.” How to sing “Whenever I see?”

So I conjured patriotic sound by imagining a bugle playing the tune. I think you’ll hear some of it survived in the final version, even if the major chord that inspired the first line, ended up accompanied by an emotional progression once I started adding piano.

So with a few slow-down-here and take-a-break-here and now-hold-this-note-out type instructions, I came up with a tune I think my Primary kids will be able to learn tomorrow.

And we can always pull it out again for Flag Day and Independence Day.

See that dotted line below?  It’s a link to the sheet music!

Honor: Whenever I See my Country’s Flag by Susan Call Hutchison

This is the first sheet music I’ve shared at MuseScore.  I’ve been using the free software for almost a year, so it’s about time I started learning how to embed on my own website the music I produce with it!

Let me know:  Were you able to link to the music?  Were you able to read along with the “ah-ing” choir and sing the song?  I’ll let you know in the comments how it goes tomorrow at church!



Another FREE eBook Giveaway

It’s been a long winter.

I’m so ready for sunshine and outdoor fun.

The Robert Louis Stevenson poem, “Bed in Summer” comes to mind, as it almost always does, when I think about the change from the darkness of winter to the longer days of summer light.

And that reminds me of little ones, exhausted from play, resisting nap time, because “it’s too nice to go to sleep.”

FREE Read-Aloud, Read-Along eBOOK you can read now!

FREE Read-Aloud, Read-Along eBOOK you can read now!

The model on the cover is our first daughter, over thirty years ago, who finally collapsed on our basement apartment floor, with her over-sized Tweety Bird as a pillow.

Free eBook

I had so much fun with the free book on Mrs. Middlejoy’s site that I decided to put together a free book for my Read-Aloud, Read-Along site.

It is a compilation of poems from my Bedtime Rhymes, Fun Time Rhymes
and Year-Round Rhymes.  I hand picked them for their relaxing rhythms, and engaging themes.

I hope they help parents, grandparents and any other care givers who find themselves in need of something to sooth a pre-schooler or elementary school child into an afternoon rest.


Did You Ever See a Whale?

Did you ever see a whale swimming out in the sea

Jump high above the waves as the wind blew free?

No, I never saw a whale.  But I have a little fish.

And he swims just as fast and as free as you could wish.

Did you ever see a tiger in the tall, waving grass

Move as silent as the night, letting no one pass?

No, I never saw a tiger.  But I did see my cat

In the tall grass of the garden and she moved just like that.

Did you ever see a jungle, where the thick green vines

Made a home for snakes and parrots and monkeys all to climb?

No, I never saw a jungle.  But I do have a yard

With trees and birds and squirrels — so believing isn’t hard.

Did you ever take a rocket to the top of the sky

And look down on all the people as the world passed by,

And see stars and space and planets just as far as you could look?

No, I never rode a rocket.  But I did read a book!

reading kids - Copy


I’d Say That I Had Spring Fever…

Robin in winter tree
As the song says so well, (that is, “It Might as Well be Spring” from the Richard Rogers/Oscar Hammerstein musical State Fair), there is no reason to have Spring Fever, since there aren’t any signs of Spring. “I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud, Or a robin on the wing…”

But I did see a robin yesterday! In our winter-bare hawthorn tree, its red breast stood out against the ice-blue sky.

I don’t know why the robins come so early to Southeast Idaho. They aren’t a sign of spring here.

They gather in leafless tree branches along the frozen Portneuf River, before the pussy willows even bud. They fluff themselves against subzero cold, and somehow survive.007

The robins I remember from my childhood in Central Oregon showed up after the thaw, when they pulled fat earthworms from the soggy ground.

At least, that’s what my memory tells me now.

Did I miss the winter robins years ago? Were they there all along, unnoticed until I thought to look for them, because I had been taught that robins were the “first sign of Spring?”

I’m usually one for living in the moment, and enjoying the season I am in right now. Winter has been wonderful, especially this winter, with it’s emphasis on family and service.

But there are days like today, with the peaks of the Grand Tetons shimmering on the eastern horizon as we drive north to Idaho Falls, that I start dreaming of hiking among the wildflowers. Or even just puttering around in our little back yard, enjoying the plants my dad and stepmom planted years ago, that will spring to life again as they do each year, despite how long the frost and snow hang on.

So, along with rejoicing in the current season, I look forward with hope to the next season, and the season after that, trusting the flowers will bloom, the trees will green, and the earth will yield its worms when robins seek them.

And with that hope in my winter heart, it might as well be Spring.