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Strong Women: Andrea Zucker

Posted on May 4, 2017 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (98)

The above link is to a song we sang last November, standing truth to power to stop the war machine and stand up for a brighter day. Andrea and Rob Zucker hosted our rehearsal and had hoped to sing with us, but she was not well enough that day.  Her spirit was certainly with us and is still with us today.

Andrea slipped away from this earthly realm early Sunday morning. Her race was run. But her loving family and friends can see her vibrancy, twinkling eyes, and beaming smile right here and right now! 

Sarah Pirtle, thank you for the chance to gather with Andrea while we could.  What a gift music is.  It brings us together again and again and again, even as we sing out injustice and pain, we are building community and strength and binding souls together.

Sisters, sing on. Your own songs, the songs of the ancients, or borrow someone else's song, but keep singing.  None of us get out of this alive, but wow, can we ever release a great spirit while we are here. Andrea did and we will honor her by continuing to stand strong: sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, granddaughters, friends of all stripes. Her song lives on.


Offering the Magic of Singing Together

Posted on March 19, 2017 at 10:03 AM Comments comments (156)
Many of you have wondered what I did with myself during my three months away this winter.  My next few blogs will share some of the stories and learning of this inward time of year. Hmm, going inward while going out to new places--one of life's paradoxes!

My desire was to rest, yes, but also to focus my calling(s).  I put the 's' because there were/are so many!  Do you feel the appeal of so many possibilities? That has been my M.O. Astrologers might say it's because I was born in February and am a Pisces. Pisces are nice people who can get along with lots of people but are famous for having a hard time making decisions.  I am a beginner in such wisdom, but I am quite a few years down the road in life experience and it is time to gather my resources and put them into the ground and let them grow roots and so that there can be some fruit to enjoy.

Amazingly, three wonderful women mentors have come to coach me during this time.  Jackie Kotei, Joyce Rouse, and Patrice Wilson have guided me to truly claim my particular voice and get it out there.  

Each in their own way told me to get on the ball with social media and I have revised my website as a first important step.  After struggling with several website names, their collective wisdom was to own my own name! Seems obvious, doesn't it?
So, please visit:
dorothycresswell.org and discover "the magic of singing together!"

Plus, a new song to help us all do whatever it is we are called to do!



When Something’s Calling                by Dorothy Cresswell

            C                   G           C        F
When something’s calling you inside
C                                                  G
Don’t wait around for an easy ride.
    C            G        C
You could be waiting around all day,
                                             G                 C
So take the first step and be on your way.

    Am                                        G       Am
    When something’s calling you inside
    Am                                                 G          Am
    Don’t wait around for someone else to drive.
                 Dm                       Am
    You might be waiting around all week
                           G                                                      Am
    When you could be making progress on your own two feet.

            C                    G         C        F
When something’s calling you inside
C                                                 G
Don’t wait around or an easy ride.
        C             G            C
You could be waiting around all year
                                               G             C
Or moving into action and getting in gear.

    Am           G              Am
    This is your life to live
    Am                             G                  Am
    And you have your own gifts to give
                   Dm                             Am
    What eggs will hatch, what seeds will grow?
                 G                                                      Am
    If we take a deep breath and get up and go!


           

Be Strong, Be Kind!

Posted on February 20, 2017 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (210)
Be Strong, Be Kind
Well, it has been a few weeks since the largest march in the world, The January 21st, 2017 Women’s March, drew women and children (and the men and boys who love them) out into the streets. In every corner of the world, in large cities where thousands marched, to tiny villages on every continent, women carried signs professing our belief in a kinder world.  I happened to wake up in Florida that day. As I sipped my morning tea, this marching song came singing itself in my head:

Today’s the day I set my mind:
Be Strong, Be Kind!
I’ll find a way, a way I’ll find,
Be Strong, Be Kind!
    I will not let unkindness win
    So let the friendly acts begin.
    A smile, a wave, a welcome in
    Will help us all be strong!

Doo-doot-doo-doot-doo-doot-doo-doot,
Be kind, be strong….my mind kept singing as we had our breakfast and prepared our signs.

And then, a friend came to join us, bringing her own new song!  A kindred spirit! What a joy!!  Together we walked to the gathering place in our little seaside town, New Smyrna Beach, and joined the UCC (United Church of Christ) contingent.  We wore our UCC shirts that declared, “Love Knows No Limits!”

This town had never seen so many activists in it’s park.  We were visitors, but the organizers who lived here said that this surpassed their wildest dreams.  Later that sentiment was echoed across the news channels all over the world.

I taught Vern and Dusty who walked with me, and we sang our mighty little song. Joyce taught her song to the people around her.

Here's a new video to go with the song:

Enjoy the photos and the song from our corner of this precious world filled with caring people!


A New Name!

Posted on January 26, 2017 at 6:26 PM Comments comments (225)
STRIKE A CHORD MUSIC!

I am excited to announce the new name for our organization's website that covers projects offered by a trio of singer/songwriters based in western Massachusetts. Dorothy Cresswell, Helen Fortier, and Katie Tolles have made music together and individually for many years and have much to offer.  Some of our projects are The Curious Giraffe Show, Nana's Bananas,  the Happy Valley Children's Chorus, the Healing Circle Singers, and Bridges Coffeehouse and Open Mic (the last two are sponsored and hosted by the First Congregational Church of Amherst.)

Recently, as I was reflecting about what brings me the greatest joy, I wrote, "that feeling when I strike a chord and there's this something's-about-to-happen energy. The vibrations reach out and old and young turn their heads, make eye-contact, and smile.

The words "Strike A Chord" jumped out at me and "StrikeAChordMusic.org" was born. PioneerValleySinging.com was our first tagline, started in 2012 when I first retired,  but Strike a Chord Music will get people's attention!

Strike A Chord Music represents three musician/songwriter/performer/songleaders who make up a perfect chord when we sing together. Katie's high voice, Helen's mid-range voice, and Dorothy's lower voice love to blend in harmony. Both musically and personally, we each bring our own "sound" and vibration. With our different life experiences and training and strengths, together we are more. So we three will share the website to bring our individual and joint offerings to the world.

Strike A Chord Music also creates and offers songs that strike a chord in our hearts.  This is not just sing-along music.  Helen's music has lyrics and harmonies that heal.  Dorothy's music has messages and stories of courage and wonder.  Katie's powerful voice and choices of music convey the power of the human spirit. Each of us are activists, doing our part to join with others to "Reach for the Coming Tide" (as one of Helen's songs declares.)

Together and individually, we offer our music to the world, and invite you to sing along. We know that each of us is one voice in a whole world chorus. We like to sing, and will sing alone if necessary, but the joy is truly there when we sing with others.   We'd love to sing with you!

We are also members of the People's Music Network,  http://peoplesmusic.org
and the Children's Music Network https://childrensmusic.org.


I'm Gonna Be With You

Posted on August 15, 2016 at 5:56 PM Comments comments (80)
Well, it has been a day of realizing our limits. We do not live forever.  At a talk by Terry Tempest Williams and  Lauret Savoy at Mount Holyoke College on Saturday night, we were reminded that our lives are like the blink of a shutter on a camera.  What will we do in our shutter moment?  We were reminded that we are not the only ones who live and love on the planet. All of creation lives and loves and eventually lets go.  

Today we visited with a beloved elder who has led the way on so many radical actions, and today needed assistance with her grocery shopping, grateful to get about with her walker.  We visited another dear friend in the hospital who is waiting for test results, and not feeling well at all. And her friend who was also there had recently lost the love of her life, who was 15 years younger. So unexpected.

With concern for all of them, we returned to our car somewhat heavy-hearted. Then as we drove past fields of sunflowers and tall August corn and blue blue skies dappled with light white clouds, our energy returned. For now, for today, we live, move, and have our beings here on this beautiful planet. Another day. This day.

Eventually back at my desk, I was surprised to find this note in an email:

"I very much enjoyed meeting you at Wayne’s hike and day of remembrances.  Thank you for sharing with all of us and sending me the copy of words and music.  I really appreciate having them.  Already I shared the music with my cousin, ... in Texas, who is caring for her husband ..., her Step-Mother (age 100!), her Mother-In-Law (...in her 90s)... My cousin really liked your song, too.  I hope to meet you again, one day!  .....  
With Love, Carol"
 
This is the gift that keeps on giving.  A song comes into your heart after your mother dies and you get to write it and sing it to comfort yourself. Then you get to record it so that others can have it. Years later you go to a memorial hike for a friend who lived life so richly and was taken too soon, and the butterfly follows you down the mountain whispering in your ear "sing the song! I want them to know that I'm gonna be with them!" And so you do, in a simple little voice, but the song goes out and each one hears and receives the truth and comfort. 

I'm gonna be with you in a different way now,
It's mystery somehow but true.
Sometimes when you're walking you'll feel a little breeze.
That's a gentle hug from me to you.
     When you wake up in the morning and you open up your eyes
     To the color in the sky, that's just me there saying, "Hi!"
     Or as you fall asleep you'll sense something calm and deep.
     It's just a sweet dreams kiss from me to you.
From me to you it'll feel brand new
But we'll always be together like the air is part of weather.
When it seems that we're apart, I'll be right there in your heart.
Closer now than ever---just a different point of view.

When you're caught in the rain, soaking wet from all that rain,
I'm pouring all my love on you.
Or when the air is dry and you see a butterfly,
I could be saying hi to you.
      When you notice a new birdsong, stay awhile I'm near.
      When the snow is gently falling, feel my love is here.
      When you find a quiet moment, close your eyes and see,
      If you sense me right there with you, just imagine you're with me.
Just imagine that I'm there, anytime and anywhere.
Close your eyes and say a prayer, or laugh and give a cheer!
I'm just changing my form, we're just learning a new norm.
We're just taking different points of view.
'Cause you know, I will always be with you.

There are giants around here!

Posted on December 22, 2015 at 3:01 PM Comments comments (123)
Last Saturday, while having a good time offering some great sing-along kids music at the Amherst Winter Farmer's Market, this giant came walking up to me.  Who......? As a retired kindergarten teacher of 27 years, plus five other years teaching preschool locally, occasionally I find myself in this situation. But I don't usually have to look up quite so high. But the big smile, and the twinkling eyes waiting for that moment of recognition, sang loudly and clearly into my brain: kindergarten graduate! Kindergarten graduate!  Elijah!!
I truly do not know if I would have known this youngster, now YOUNG MAN, if I hadn't bumped into his mother a little while before. Elijah, now a graduate in journalism, working to keep us aware of events in Central and South America.  Oh my gosh!  Am I thrilled to see him! YES!! Am I thrilled every time this happens? Yes.  In fact, there was a similar very tall good-looking guy who watched me singing, even left me a donation, but that we didn't quite say hi that morning since I was busy singing, that I suspect was another long-ago, now grown kindergarten graduate. Emmett? Was that you?  

Wherever you all are out there, please do say hi when we cross paths. It lifts my day immensely. It was not easy to decide to retire, and I LOVE seeing my "little ones" and hearing what you're exploring as you grow.

It is because I loved you so much that I still offer a children's chorus for kids and hope that they too will grow up and surprise me at the farmer's market some day.  Meanwhile, if there are new youngsters out there in the 4-10 year old age group who would like to be in our first upcoming musical version of "Make Way for Ducklings" in the spring, please get in touch.
Life is one awesome trip.  Happy holidays to all. 

The Curious Giraffe Visits the Amherst Farmer's Market!

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 3:32 PM Comments comments (58)
Welcome back!  

The Curious Giraffe is on the move!  We will be singing and telling stories at the Amherst Winter Farmer's Market this Saturday from 10 AM to 12 Noon.  You will find us in the Amherst Middle School Cafeteria.  We will surely add some songs of hope and light and encouragement during this darkest time of the year.  Today it is wet and rainy and chilly, but inside it will be dry and "sunny" and warm. 

Hope to see you there!


Funny Friendly Songs!

Posted on December 3, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (85)

















The time has rolled around  for another Happy Valley Children's Chorus Concert!  
December 6th, at 1:30 at the First Congregational Church of Amherst (165 Main Street, Amherst, MA)
Don't these kids just make you smile?  They have been meeting every Monday afternoon for ten weeks, laughing and singing and widening their friendships.   Sunday they will be performing a set of Funny Friendly Songs loaded with surprises and many solos, small groups, and whole group songs.  This season we have kids from 4-9 years old and they will brighten anyone's day.  Join us for such funny Songs like Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey and The Elephant Song and some songs to warm your heart, like Peace In My Fingers and Swimming to the Other Side.  

Then we will take a winter break and return in the spring to prepare a musical version of "Make Way for Ducklings." So if you know any ducklings who would like to be in it, please contact me, at [email protected]  

Why I Do the Happy Valley Children's Chorus

Posted on November 21, 2015 at 7:53 AM Comments comments (55)
The Happy Valley Children's Chorus has their next concert December 6th, at 1:30, at the First congregational Church of Amherst. The title of the concert is "Funny Friendly Songs." 

Sometimes we have a large group of kids, 15 or more. Sometimes we have fewer than 10. Children's lives are just so full these days, or parents cannot get them to the practices, and so participation varies. But whether many or few, every voice that sings is a light on this planet and I am happy to encourage this in our area. Our little chorus accepts kids from age 4 and up, which is something many children's choruses just don't do.  But come and see what able singers they are!  

I find that when the music is fun and meaningful, kids are hooked.  I find that when I hear children sing, my heart is lifted a zillion times higher than when I read about trying to be happy.  I find that when a child is singing, they are finding their voices for the rest of their lives.  They are learning to be heard. They are learning that they are part of a community and that every voice counts.

Come and join us for our concert. If you have a young singer, contact me for the spring session which will start the first week of March. 

"I sing and the song within me, wants to join with the song in you!"

Bridges: The Unexpected happens here!

Posted on September 14, 2015 at 7:46 AM Comments comments (86)
Bridges Coffee House and Open Mic was once again a fun, heart-opening time with new friends: Tulip, Amy, Ken, Ruby, Kafelte, Marcie, Lewis---all of whom I would not know except by coming to Bridges.  There were other longtime friends too: Dusty, Lydia, Ivy, Charron, Carol...The setting is relaxed, the conversation and performing is interactive, and you just come away feeling closer and glad you were there. Moments of faith and doubt, hardest moments, best moments, favorite oldies and sing-alongs, original songs, poetry, story-telling, what we're reading---all enrich our lives for the coming month.  You missed it this time, but maybe you'll come next time, or the next.  Be part of it. Be surprised!  Every Second Saturday, 3:00-5:00, First Congregational Church of Amherst Dining Room. Next one is October 10th.

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