Collected & Transcribed
by Mary Celestia Parler
(How did the singing school work? Was part of the regular school?)
No ! No, they just — the singin teacher come in and got up a class.
There was between seventy and eighty of us.
Well, they didn't take anyone that their voice had (n't?) changed,
y'know. There was four of us — five of us, I guess, singin in the class.
I had three brothers — there was six of us, there'as three boys and three
girls fof us. We could carry all the parts. I had a sister that sang
alto and one of the boys sang bass and one tenor and the other sang
soprano along with the other two sisters — one sister sang soprano and
the other sang alto.
(How long would singin school last?)
Well, it lasted all winter. He'd just give two lessons a week. And
we had to go three miles in a two-horse wagin,And we'd take a wagin-load
pick em up in our part of the neighborhood, you know.
(Have it in the daytime or at night?)
At night. And then he had classes — another class — just across
the creek from where we lived and we could 'tend that free of charge. I
think the girls paid fifty cents and the boys a dollar and a half — that
made it a dollar a scholar, y'know, all 'round. He just give two lessons
a week — took us all winter long to give twenty-four lessons.
(And he taught you to sing in notes first?)
Yes, yes, we had to sing in notes. I could sing the notes of any of
these songs, That Old Mountain Pine, and then I've got a childhood song
here. Well, we had to know the notes along with the song. Then we had a big
exhibition at the last — Finest teacher I ever heard — the finest singer.
He could sing any part, and he could play any instrument. He had a string
band along with the other works: and when they had the entertainment, why,
we had two organs — we didn't have no penannas then. That was in eighteen
(What was his name, do you remember?)
Oh, I've thought of it a thousand times. Now, le's see —
(ell. le's just don't worry 'bout that. Go ahead. What were you going to
Reel 150 - Item 3 (cont'd)
He left our part of the country — we'as in Granby (?) County, Missouri,
m y up in the north part of the state, and he went from there down about
Chillicothe, and got up a singing school downthere. Well, he'd been married
before he ever come to our place — to our part of the country. And he got in
with a girl there and married her. And then when he went on, why he left her
and picked up another woman down about Chillicothe, Missouri. And she had —
I think — the report come back, y'know, we didn't have no telegram ner no
telephonesor anything like that then — but the word come that she had about
six hundred dollars — she was a widow woman - and he got her money and
skipped. And the last we heard of him, he was in the penitentiary.
(He could sing though?)
Aw! He could sing anything, and he could play any instrument. It just
seemed strange that he was such a rascal.
(Did you have singing school every winter, or just that one time?)
Just that one time. Then we had a carpenter that built Father's barn,
and he'as pretty good in music, and he had singing books, and he'd bring
em, and we'd practice at home. Anybody come in, we had company y'know at
times, and travelers going through the country, and that's the way we'd
entertain em, just singin' ! We didn't have no — I had one brother played
the f i — violin, but he'as too young then to go to singing school. The
only musician there was in the family. We could all sing but they couldn't
none of em play any instruments.
(Did you mother and father both like to sing?)
Oh, yes. Father'd set fer hours and listen at us sing.
(Do you remember any of the songs you learned from him? That you didn't
learn in singin school?)
No ! He didn't sing any. I thought you just wanted to know if he liked
to hear us. No, he didn't sing none.
(No, I meant, did he sing. I though maybe you had learned some songs from
No, these songs I got is just what we used at that time. We's all
goin to singin school and Sunday school — This Moses song, that 'as
carried out in a play. We'd have exhibition — school exhibition —
we learned everything then b'heart. We didn't have to be taught much, we
just learned things b'heart.
(Can you sing that b'heart still?)
(Well sing it by heart.)
We put it on — we got a kind of a literary society out there at
Harmon, when we'as livin out there, and told my husband an me, to put this
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