Letter from the Editor
How Can We Keep From Singing
Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music. —Nelson Mandela
The depth and breath of our CMN community are displayed in our eighty-second issue. The theme, “Music Without Borders,” is inspired by a trifecta of features and amplified through many of the columns and songs contained in these virtual pages.
In these days, when a few taps of fingers on a keyboard brings the world—and world music—to our fingertips, it’s hard to remember that just a few decades ago, this was not the case, especially for authentic, traditional music sung with children. Resources were scarce or nonexistent, but the passion and tenacity of certain musicians, educators, and researchers helped us access music from near and far corners of the world. We highlight some of these pioneers in this issue, starting with “Culture, Connection, and the Magic of Music,” Bonnie Lockhart’s insightful interview of Magic Penny Award recipient Jose-Luis Orozco, and followed by “Can You Stop the Birds from Singing?” in which Louise Pascale mesmerizes with an account of the inception, evolution, and continued work with the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project. Sally Rogers’ interview with Judith Cook Tucker, “Walking the Talk: You Just Have to Have a Big Heart,” links past treasures from PIO! to the present by highlighting the history of World Music Press, whose resources continues to influence so many of us in CMN.
In an issue full of evocative titles, “How Can We Keep From Singing” is the glorious name for this year’s conference, testifying to the myriad ways that singing together can satisfy our souls and refresh our spirits. For those who are new to CMN or who are first-time conference attendees, the Reports section includes photo guides to the Board of Directors, conference organizers, and key committee members to assist with orientation. The conference report from Liz Hannan, conference co-chair, touches on the delights in store for attendees, including the keynote presentation by Melanie DeMore, “a singer/songwriter, composer, conductor, and vocal activist who believes in the power of voices raised together.”
This issue’s columns and features are inspiring (Sally Rogers’ “Choruses and Song Swaps: A Way to Bring Singing Into Our Communities), thought provoking (Peter Alsop’s “Skin Color,” Joanie Calem’s “Creating Safe Musical Spaces”), quirky (Monty Harper’s “Advanced Zippering: A Mathematical Exploration of the Zipper Song Form”), instructive (Val Smalkin’s “Teaching Fourth and Fifth Grade Music,” Maureen Conlin’s “Music and Sounds From Around the World”), and illuminating (Alina Celeste’s “Adventures in YouTubing”).
That brings us to songs—and a very special announcement. Thanks to webmaster Carl Foote’s impeccable record keeping, we learned that PIO!’s 500th song would occur in this issue, and the landmark designation falls to Pam Donkin’s CMN anthem, “Let the World Be Well.”
The other CMN anthems, Bruce O’Brien’s “Didn’t We Have Fun?” and Sarah Pirtle’s “My Roots Go Down,” are soundtracks of our lives. The remaining songs, two from other cultures, are aural delights, eminently singable and shareable, with wonderful stories attached. Finally, this issue gives us the chance to bid a fond and grateful farewell to our outgoing Board President, Liz Benjamin, whose uplifting messages have appeared in PIO! for the past two years.
A year ago, our new PIO! team completed its first issue. It was a harrowing but exciting process that I remember as a long series of questions followed by even more questions. Somehow we navigated the unknown as we shaped content, initiated new formats and protocols, and learned how to dance with each other—sometimes stepping on toes, but mostly going in the right direction. What a difference a year makes! Our crew—Ginger Lazarus (copy editor), Carl Foote (webmaster), Kim Arden (graphic designer)—genuinely enjoys working together and solving the myriad odd problems that erupt while constructing a journal. We’ve been graced by the addition of Val Smalkin as Songs Editor and are ever grateful for the work of Barbara Rice (New Sounds), our intrepid columnists, and generous feature writers. Finally, Alina Celeste connects PIO! to the greater world through posts on Twitter, Facebook, and the CMN Blog. Thank you, everyone, for your amazing work!