Last week was my late mother’s birthday, and although I think of her often, I was especially reminded of her when I watched two TV features showing the positive effects music had on the relationship between autistic children and their mothers and on persons with dementia. 

My mother loved to sing.  My sisters and I grew up hearing her sing as she busied herself around the house.  She also liked to recite poetry and sing to us kids while she held us on her lap.  I can still feel her presence as she bounced me up and down and recited “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross” or sang “Black-Eyed Susan.” 

When she had a granddaughter named Katie, she sang “K-K-K Katy” to her.  I found myself singing her songs not only to my children but also to the children of others. 

In the grip of nostalgia, I called my sisters and asked them for names of songs they remembered our mom singing.  The length of the list was amazing.  Our mom sang war songs, patriotic songs, love songs, jazz, pop, Scottish, Irish, African American, religious, etc.  A lot of these songs won’t be familiar to young folks, but I included the titles below.   

“Over There”; “How You Gonna Keep them Down On The Farm (Reuben, Reuben)”; the “Caisson Song”; “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”; “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”; “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Prisoner’s Hope)”; “Li’l Liza Jane”; “You Made Me Love You”; “Love’s Old Sweet Song”; “The Band Played On”; “Let Me Call You Sweetheart; “Ago”; “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me); “Sweet Georgia Brown”; “In the Gloaming”; “My Juanita”; “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet”; “When You Wore a Tulip”; “Blow the Man Down”; “Old Man River; “Don’t Fence Me In”; “Shortenin’ Bread”; “St. Louis Blues; Smile”; “Roll, Jordan Roll; “Ain’t that Good News”; “Every Time I Feel The Spirit”; “In The Sweet Bye and Bye”; “Steal Away”; “In the Garden”; “Trust and Obey”; “Beulah Land”; “I Surrender All”; “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”; “There’s Not a Friend Like the Lowly Jesus”; “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”; “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”; “Jesus Calls Us”; “It Is Well with My Soul”; “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”; “Walk All Over God’s Heaven (Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven Ain’t Going There)”; “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”; “Onward, Christian Soldiers”; “Just As I Am, Without One Plea”; “This Little Light Of Mine”; “Shall We Gather at the River?”; “Every Time I Feel the Spirit”; “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?”; “Since I Laid My Burdens Down”; “In That Great Gettin’ Up Mornin’”; “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.”

I doubt that my mom was aware of the positive effects her singing had in scientific terms, but there has now (for years) been lots of research that shows the positive role music plays in and on human life. 

Do our schools know that?