Thursday, 2 February 2012

Inch Worm, Inch Worm, Measuring the Marigold

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Self Explanatory !

Simplicity is always the key. Simple music sung really beautifully will move an audience as much as clever and complicated stuff which needs so much brain during the performance that it can lose the heart of the piece.

I always try to bring a lighthearted part song, which is not religious, on my Abbey visits. We use this as a parting moment of merriment at the final choir session. The hard work has been done, these ladies, as with all nuns I have taught, work tangibly hard when I teach, they want to squeeze every last drop of knowledge from me so it can sustain their singing when I have flown the coop and they do not see me for a whole year, or at the least 9 months. It is therefore a great moment when we decide to spend 20 minutes having a jolly sing, for nothing in particular except joy.

This week I brought a 1950's/60's song from a Disney film which I used all my school teaching career many moons ago. It is called Inch Worm, and I think was sung by the inimitable Burl Ives with Hayley Mills as an all American Pollyanna type character. It is such a sweet song with simple words along the line of

Inch Worm Inch Worm
Measuring the marigold
You and your arithmetic will probably go far.
Inch Worm Inch Worm
Measuring the marigold,
Seems to me you'd stop and see
How beautiful you are.

There is a very melodious upper part which cleverly changes the harmony, but gives an opportunity for untried, religious sopranos a top line, not too high but high enough to prove very satisfying!

The sisters loved it, and of course a few knew the song from their youth, but many did not. It brought together in a jocular way all the skills they had honed during my stay, and allowed them to sing 'out', with no fear of overpowering others, and feel generally liberated vocally, and I dare to say, personally. When we must rein our voices in for most of the time we sing, a good full belt, using newly remembered vowel shapes and newly reached top G's gives such emotional and physical satisfaction by the making of a 'big and beautiful noise' !

They also sang a wonderfully hearty Happy Birthday into my iPad, which I will play to my father who was 90 yesterday, and will be so delighted!

My 'nun' sojourn is at an end. Thank you all for the pleasure of your song, company, and gastronomy. My injection of your welcome and tireless warmth will sustain me until the next time.


  1. This is one of my favourite songs. I often do the housework to it. It meets my need of simple but beautiful tune, easy to sing and I love the message of mindfulness. We are often too keen to get stuff "out of the way" and miss the pleasure and beauty in the everyday and the simple (even sweeping the floor!)