The Incredible Luminous Universal Musical Family
The Lester family had begun homeschooling in 1978, long before it was popular! In fact, in the Indiana farm town where the Lester’s lived, the legality of homeschooling was very questionable. The family tried various curriculums, but quickly found that "unschooling" worked the best for them. Each child had different interests, talents, and styles of learning. Their parents felt it was important to be equally supportive of each child’s gifts and styles, so they rejected the “one size fits all” approaches to learning. Each child learned to the beat of his own drum, during this time, their dad encouraged them to play instruments and sing along with him.
The purpose of this, our second recording as a family, is to uplift and unify. To remind ourselves and you that there is beauty in the world and fun in our own actual lives, right around us, in our family and friends, and in us. The family is on the rebound in spite of the torrential sensory blast of technology, and the separateness it fosters. More and more, people are feeling that they need the structure of a family and the support it fives their children as they grow. We are not separate. Life can be warm, happy and loving, and God is Good.
Traditional Rounds, Canons and Harmonies
One of the best ways we know of to bring a group together for fun and harmony is to sing rounds. It simply dissolves conflict! This is something we’ve employed in our family to help establish harmony among siblings. It’s also a great way to pass the time enjoyably in the car! So join our family in song, and learn 22 traditional rounds and canons! Lyrics included. Note: children can generally learn to sing rounds at about 9 or 10 years old. Songs Include: Hello Song; Buddies and Pals; Rainbow Song; Horsie, Horsie; The Wind in the Willows; Rise Up Oh Flame; Upward Trail; Jubilate Deo; Old Hungarian Round; Father We Thank Thee; Row Row Row Your Boat; Canoe Song; The Merry Lark; A Medley of Four Songs; Oh How Lovely; Sing Together; Over the Meadows; White Coral Bells; Make New Friends; Are You Sleeping? Frere Jacque; White Sands; Gray Sands.
Homestyle Harmony takes the next step after our ‘Traditional Rounds and Canons’ recording. Now each person has to sing completely different notes from the other singers, resulting in 2, 3, and 4 part harmony. This is an exciting step! We use a unique method to teach you these songs. First, each part (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) is sung separately and then we sing it all together. By hearing your part “lifted out” of the group, you can memorize it and then you’ll be able to sing along with us in the ensemble. Try it! You’ll find it exhilarating and deeply satisfying! Songs Include: In Summer the Sunshine Is Brightest; The Ash Grove; Evening Chimes; April Shower; Winter’s Farewell; Moonlight in the Forest; The Orchestra; Swinging Along; Long Ago; Prayer from Hansel and Gretel; The Flowers; America the Beautiful
Learn Christmas Harmonies
Your family can learn to sing traditional Christmas carols in 4-part harmony. This tape has the same format as “Homestyle Harmony” where each part (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) is sung separately for you to memorize, and then they are sung together for you to practice with. It is very satisfying to sing in harmony – especially with your family! (If you don’t have 4 family members who are ready for part singing yet, these songs can be sung in 2 or 3 parts.) So, prepare your family this year for Christmas caroling, church get-togethers and parties, or simply worshipping at home, by learning these well-loved Christmas carols in harmony! Songs Include: Silent Night; Away in a Manger; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Hark the Herald Angels Sing; Joy to the World; We Three Kings; And More…
Learn Favorite Traditional Hymns In Harmony
How would your family like to sing their favorite hymns together in harmony? ‘LEARN FAVORITE TRADITIONAL HYMNS IN HARMONY’ will help you do just that! All the hymns are sung a-capella, with each part (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) sung separately to aid in memorization. This tape is geared toward the beginning harmonizer, as the first six songs are fairly easy duets. The next two songs are trios, and the last five songs are in full four part harmony. So, there is something for everyone! If your family can sing rounds easily, your are probably ready to harmonize. These songs will be a nice addition to your family devotionals, or will simply make singing in church more enjoyable. Adding harmony to a melody very much enhances the sound and feeling of the song, which you will quickly discover once your family experiences harmonizing together! Songs Include: Jesus Loves Me; Jesus Loves the Little Children; Anywhere With Jesus; God Will Take Care of You; Sweet Hour of Prayer; Allelujah; Jesus – Thou Joy of Loving Hearts; He is Lord; For the Beauty of the Earth; Amazing Grace; Gloria Patri; Onward Christian Soldiers; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Doxology
– by the Joshua Tree Vocal Ensemble
We are offering this recording as an inspiration to those who are learning the songs from LEARN CHRISTMAS HARMONIES – Family Style. My husband and I have sung in several ensembles over the years, and a few years ago we got together with some friends and recorded this album of a Cappella (without accompaniment) Christmas carols for the sheer pleasure of it. It is a wonderful example of how good a Cappella singing can be with practice and experience. Mostly traditional, with a few lesser known but very beautiful songs are sung with attention to dynamics, tone quality, articulation, blend and all the other things a good ensemble works on. With this album playing in the background during the Christmas season, your family will feel inspired not only to learn their parts, but to sing beautifully together. Songs Include: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Deck the Halls; Hark the Herald; What Child is This?; Silent Night; Oh Come All Ye Faithful; While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks; Angels We Have Heard On High; And More…
A B O U T P A R T S I N G I N G . . .
If you have children who love to sing, and can sing on pitch, they may be ready for part singing. Most children are not ready before age 9 or so. Younger children tend to “slide” into other people’s parts. You’ll recognize their readiness by their ability to sing a simple part and not be distracted when hearing another part sung simultaneously. This takes concentration and a certain maturity level. We highly recommend that you start with our Rounds recording. Homestyle Harmony and Learn Christmas Harmonies – Family Style can be quite challenging for the beginner. Start by learning the melody to the song you are working on. Sing it in unison as a family often, just for fun. All of the songs on our tapes have nice learnable melodies that are fun in themselves. Doubling up can help the beginner build confidence once you start breaking the song up into parts. Learning the two part songs first makes sense, of course, as they are easier. The 3 and 4 part songs can be first learned as two part songs, too; Working up to 4 parts as the children become enthused. Unwilling children should not be pressured; encouraged and praised, yes! Family singing has its own unique problems. One is that voices change as children grow, so what works for your family one year may not work the next. At this time our 3 oldest boys (we have 5 sons) have bass voices. Boys often go through a period during puberty when their once-very-reliable voices become an embarrassment to them. They can’t sing high, they can’t sing low, their voices make strange sounds that they didn’t mean to make, and they decide they just can’t sing anymore. In their late teens their voices usually settle down and their confidence returns. This is why Damian’s voice is not heard on our new Hymns recording. On our Rounds and Homestyle Harmony recordings Damian is the most frequently heard singer; but, at age 16, he feels he needs to take a break from our family recordings. Gabe, who had a sweet, but wobbly voice at age 7, has a nice, steady voice at age 13 and can sing well in an ensemble. He sang soprano in our Christmas Harmonies recording at age 11, but he’s an alto in our Hymns recording. In another year or two he’ll be a tenor or a bass. Mom, being a solid alto herself, now has to take Gabe’s place and sing soprano on Hymns… a real stretch. Ben, age 7, is still a little young for part singing, but in a year or so he’ll take Mom’s place singing soprano, and she can go back to alto. (It must be easier with girls!) Steve,- (Dad) sings tenor or bass, whichever he has to sing but he is clearly a tenor. The moral of this story is: Learn to be flexible. Try singing in all ranges, even if they’re not comfortable for you. Make a game of seeing how high everyone can sing a particular song (and still sound pleasing), and then how low you can sing it. If you don’t have anyone who can sing low in your family try singing the tenor and bass parts up an octave for an unusual but pleasing sound with tight harmonies. Once you know the songs well, you can change the keys to suit your family’s range. Above all, have fun! The mom and dad who sing in harmony together, just for fun, are priming the pump for their kids to do so also. So, be a good model! Sing for joy whenever the mood strikes, day or night, and you’ll pass on the attitude that God’s precious gift of music is for everyone! So let’s enjoy it!
P L E A S E N O T E . . .
Sheet Music: We do not sell sheet music to the song arrangements. This is a learn by ear program. We have taken standard arrangements, many from old, out of print music books, and adapted them for our purposes. They are not set in stone. Consider our arrangements as a starting place, any given part can be moved to another octave to accommodate a high or low-voiced singer. We don’t stress early note-reading; we feel that kids learn much more easily (and pleasurably) by ear. Ear training is a natural process in children. If your kids show an intellectual interest in music also, it would be fairly easy to transcribe your own readings of the songs to notation as a project. I feel that it is important to understand that notation and sound travel both ways; from the page through the eyes and mind to the sound, and (just as important) from the sound back through the ears and mind to the page. I was trained in music theory and orchestration after I had already learned to sing and play several instruments by ear. In my experience with studio musicians all these years, I have noticed that the best ones are ear players who can also read music.
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