Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Happenings 2016 Part 2: Singing School!

About this time last year, we learned about singing school, or "music camp", that a local church provides, for free, for 4 days and evenings, with lunch and dinner included. What a blessing! The only problem was.... it takes place in June, so we were too late last time, but I kept my eyes peeled for the dates when summer rolled around this year. 

The church that provides this ministry is a Primitive Baptist Church, so they don't sing with any instruments at all. 



We learned how to sing songs by using something called shape notes

Ever heard of it? 

Me neither. 

The best way I can explain it is this: each shape represents the notes in a scale, no matter what key you're in.  

I'm a visual learner, so maybe this picture here will help. 

The first set of notes is in the key of C. Do (pronounced doh) begins on C  and the rest of the notes follow up the scale. The second set is in the key of G. Do begins on G and the rest of the notes follow up that scale. 

It's a pretty simple way to learn songs... kinda. Learn these note names, how to jump between them and music is a breeze... at least you don't have to know all the rest of music to learn to sing a song... kinda. 

This example was taped up on the wall in the room
where my kids were learning this music. 

Here is one song we learned. It is an original from the incredibly talented man who was teaching the teen/adult class. It was so beautiful. We recorded it, along with the other 2 we learned. 

We spent Monday-Thursday morning learning music using this method and Thursday evening, we just enjoyed ourselves picking songs from the hymnal and singing together. What a super blessed time this was. 

Have you ever heard acapella singing in a congregation setting? It's so beautiful! I was moved to tears on more than one occasion.... of course, some of that had to do with the words we were singing. Powerful words + beautiful voices singing together = quite an emotional experience. 

I don't know what else to say except Adelle and I wore ourselves out going back to the evening sessions, early enough for dinner and there is a very good chance that we'll do it again next year.

If you're interested in learning more about this, I found this very interesting article about the history of shape note singing. 


  1. Wow! That's interesting. I took music for years, and never heard about this. Thank you for teaching me something new! Hope your all having a great summer.

    1. I know! Right? We did the whole do-re-mi thing in high school choir, but never ever heard of shape notes. It was a lot of fun learning to sing this way.

  2. I grew up on shape notes and going with my dad as he lead singing schools. Wow does that bring back memories.

  3. I grew up on shape notes and going with my dad as he lead singing schools. Wow does that bring back memories.


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