I met the most delightful child the other day.
Actually, I’d met her before, but she was part of a larger group of Amish kids who were at their grandma’s house while I was singing to their great-grandma, my beloved Mrs. R.
But this time, Melinda stood out.
It happened at my friend Rosanna’s beautiful new Amish farmhouse (shown above, late last winter), where Mrs. R was staying for a few weeks. Rosanna’s granddaughter Melinda (names changed), age 7 and in first grade, had heard I was coming and was waiting for me. She likes music and wanted to sit in on my little concert.
As I opened my hymnal and started picking out songs to sing, Melinda began to hover closer, and soon she was looking over my shoulder. I pulled up a chair and she gladly sat down. As I held the songbook so she could see it, I could see her eyes following my finger, and soon she was mouthing the words as I sang them—no small feat for a first grader, who had probably never seen a regular music score before, and for whom English was her second language! I was amazed she could follow the lines of words from verse to verse, but she could.
So I stopped a few times and explained how music scores work… I told her that when the notes go up on the page, my voice would go up. Later I explained that the hollow notes were held longer than the solid black ones, and I demonstrated that.
She sat for three quarters of an hour, enthralled, following the songs as I sang them and often mouthing the words. I told her that when she got older, there was a group of Amish young people locally who meet every winter for ten or twelve weeks, learning to read sheet music and singing hymns in four-part harmony. She thought that sounded wonderful.
A week went by, and I was back at Rosanna’s house singing to Mrs. R. once again. As I walked in, the two of them were gazing out the window, across the open fields behind the farmhouse. There was little Melinda, riding her pony across the fields, flying like the wind, with all the skill of a little cowgirl. It was amazing!
Rosanna shouted that I was there to sing to her great-grandma, and she quickly put the pony away and came across the fields, holding something. It was for me—and here it is below:
Melinda had written a song the previous Sunday afternoon after church, and she wanted me to have it. (I have concealed her name, but the rest is just as she drew it.) She sang the song to me and gave me the drawing. I told her it would go right up on my refrigerator when I got home—and it did!