Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: August 2019

Workhorses and Angels

Okay, time to brag on the kids some more.

What could be more appropriate to a family, with many limitations and of modest means, than to work on our voices and learn to love singing?

Okay… yes. In theory, it makes perfect sense. But this is 2019, and we are surrounded by shiny screens, self-balancing wheeled gizmos, “People are Awesome” videos, pianos that make “Chanting Monk” sounds, etc.

Isn’t singing … uh … rather pedestrian?

Yes, it is. And it usually requires a kid to be under special circumstances for them to inconvenience themselves enough to work on their voice enough to strengthen it, enough to enjoy their own voice, enough to hear the subtleties of harmony. Certainly being part of a good choir program could do this for a youth. Another possibility would be growing up in a culture of singing as is the case for the religious set.

We mostly lacked those type of advantages, but it seems we’ve been able to cobble together our own inspiration and knowledge to get to the promised land of singing.

We just had our breakthrough moment on the above piece of Christmas music. (I plan to record our next sing of it. We’re happy to send an audio of this out to our friends. New friends, too. You can introduce yourself here.)

It was Milkmaid on the soprano, Rosebud and Sudoku on the alto, myself on the tenor, and Doodle singing bass.

Yes, dear little Doodle is getting to be big Doodle and may be due for a more dignified blog name. His range goes a step below me, and he struggles to hit middle C.

But he is really the main workhorse behind our singing progress. He had to endlessly help me on these tough accidentals in the tenor line (he learned all the parts so as to help the rest of us), and he’s the one who pushes new music on us and is the first to figure out what’s going wrong when we sound bad.

Appreciation also is deserved by Rosebud, who practices singing nearly daily with Doodle. Thanks to their faithful practices, the two weakest voices in the family have nearly become the two strongest. They love to sing now, and it shows.

This morning, during our basketball game, there was a little down time for some reason, and they started singing something quietly together.

Somewhere along the way, they got inspired. I asked Doodle about it and he pointed to two things:

  • One was my stories of singing anywhere and everywhere once I had learned how to harmonize in my late teens (this was one of the early connection points between Milkmaid and I)
  • He says secondarily he’s been inspired by online videos of strong singing and harmony. (See the Mormon performance of “Nearer my God to Thee”.)

So that’s what it took to get our breakthrough moment. We all nailed our parts. We stayed on pitch. As you can see, we ended with “the song which now the angels sing” … and it sounded angelic to me!

Bamboo stalk segments coolness

We have a bamboo stick in our humble home. It’s roughly 7’4″, and we use it to point at the whiteboard when we’re eating supper, discussing chemistry.

We thought it would be fun to measure the ratio between each of the segments’ length and diameter. Here is what we got:


As you can see, something very cool is happening to the ratio, which is in the farthest right column. First it’s 0.73, then in the middle it decreases, then it increases again to 0.74. Hopefully we’ll learn the reason for this someday.

Thanks to Quinn Dombrowski for pic.

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