The drowsy senses of elementary kids roused from the old brick school to the music ‘out building’ were best navigated on warped boards that were slick with morning frost – one had to be careful with each step. Our daily march took us to the little building with cold metal chairs. We knew we had best take our seats quickly and quietly before Mrs. Beard lifted her head from behind the piano. Then the routine of song began: Jimmy Crack Corn (and I Don’t Care), Caissons Go Rolling Along, Down in the Valley, and, of course, one of her favorites – Shoo Fly. Even though my mom’s transistor radio in the kitchen offered up daily doses of The Beatles, Elvis, and Johnny Cash, my joy was just caught up in singing. The joy of lifting my voice was such an act of forgetting and freedom. It did not matter to my young mind the source or history of the song.
Then came fifth grade, along with the familiar cadence of a new year and the boardwalk to the music building. But, a new face was in front of the piano. Her smile conveyed a new sensibility on the importance of being a teacher—a teacher of music! Karen Parson’s dress was hip and cool. From her long, straight, brown hair to her large, sparkling eyes and quick smile, we knew we had entered into something new. From layering of vocals to rough-wood hand instruments, Mrs. Parson’s passion for music became quickly evident. But we, her back country pupils, were hesitant to step onto the new path she was laying before us. Soon, our trudging along on those wood boards became the quick, eager trot of devotees to the music building to join her in welcoming the day in her inimitable way with Morning Has Broken. Indeed, all mornings should begin with such grace – our young voices lifting Cat Stevens’ song – all eyes on Mrs. Parson as she led us into the new day.
“Praise for the singing Praise for the morning Praise for them springing fresh from the world”