Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas presents and miscellaneous notes

I got an unexpected present yesterday. Eldest Daughter made me a CD with some oldies (by which she means, songs from the 1980's) on it. No playlist, which actually made it better, as every song is a surprise. She included "I Will Be Here," which I knew but didn't have on a CD. Just in case you aren't familiar with it, here it is.

A relative also sent us this CD, which I highly recommend. It's mostly settings of scripture and Psalms to music by Ortega himself with several wonderful hymn settings. I'm usually hidebound about new tunes to old hymns, and some of the hymns on this (like "All Creatures of Our God and King") are sung to their old tunes, but Ortega's new ones are beautiful as well.

It was a wonderful Christmas, very quiet, except when we were playing Mannheim Steamroller or Go Fish. (Go Fish has a great version of "White Christmas," but they should ditch the semi-rap version of "Little Drummer Boy"!) Faith's new Dover coloring book (from me) was a big hit with her older sisters and me as well. It has must-color pages, so I photocopied a page for all of us. (Ssshhh. Don't tell.) We sat around and colored last evening listening to music. I recommend it--if you have girls. I suppose boys wouldn't do it.

During the course of the day yesterday, probably inspired by Mannheim Steamroller's folk-type music, I got thinking about an instrument I lost about thirty years ago. It was a wonderful little thing. A man came to our high school, invited by our music teacher, and sold them to all the students for twenty dollars apiece. Twenty dollars was enough to pay, especially for my parents, that I shouldn't have lost it, but it was affordable if you tried. He called it a shepherd's pipe. It was the easiest thing to play in the world. When I'd been in grade school, I'd suffered trying to learn the recorder, which was all the rage with music teachers just then. Not only was the recorder hard to play--even for someone like me who can play the piano and read music--but to my ear it didn't sound all that good. The shepherd's pipe was wonderful. Mine was nickel plated and had a high, sweet sound a little like a piccolo. You simply played up the scale by covering the holes successively, and half-steps were played by half-holing. Nothing could be simpler. I left it lying in the ladies' bathroom at an evening school event, in the custom-made case my grandmother had sewn, and I never saw it again. It's bugged me ever since. When I've googled or asked music stores about a shepherd's pipe, I've gotten the proverbial blank stares. (Yes, Google can give you a blank stare.)

But, I've now made up my mind: It's a penny whistle. I don't know how many nickel-plated penny whistles there are out there, or if that's even important, but I'm convinced now that's what it is. Come better weather, when driving is once more simple and easy (along about May, I'm guessing), I'm going to try to find time to go to the big music store around here and ask if they have penny whistles or tin whistles. They're still only about twenty dollars. Could be fun.


Lynn said...

At a local toy store yesterday, I happened to see a "magic flute" made by 1st note which appeared to be a plastic version of an Irish penny whistle and which cost only a few dollars. I thought of you and thought I would let you know, just in case you want one for each of you.

Lydia McGrew said...

Heh. I wonder what the tone is like if it's made with plastic. But even the metal ones aren't very expensive, it looks like.