Song Circles in Montpelier and East Montpelier: The Return of Old-Fashioned Living Room Music

Before the days of radios, televisions, and iPods most music was “homemade” and played and sung in living rooms, parlors, and front porches.  Everyone sang, and nobody complained that “I can’t sing.” 

And this living room music produced wonderful things: friends and families were brought closer by singing together; neighbors bonded over beloved songs; everyone had a chance to learn beautiful and powerful songs.  And folks found that singing gave them a sense of joy and happiness. 

This “living room music” became less common with the advent and proliferation of recorded music, but it has never really gone away.  Some performers—most notably Pete Seeger—have encouraged and taught participatory singing, and in every community throughout the country there are groups of people who continue to quietly enjoy the pleasures of “living room music.” 

In Central Vermont, there are two chances each month to enjoy “living room music.”  In East Montpelier, Amy Torchia and Erika Mitchell facilitate group singing on the third Sunday of each month from 6 to 8 pm at the Four Corners Schoolhouse, (Dodge Road/ Snow Hill /Putnam Roads), and in Montpelier, on the first Sunday of each month (September to June). Jacob and Gretta Stone do the same thing from 6 to 8 pm at the Center for Arts and Learning, 46 Barre Street.

We use the popular songbooks, Rise Up Singing and Rise Again, which between them have over 2,000 songs from which we can choose to sing anything, from “Amazing Grace” to “Love Potion No. 9.”  Many people have their own copies, but loaners are available at each gathering. We usually have accompaniment by a couple of guitars and often a banjo, harmonica, or ukulele, but there are no performances; the instruments are there only to support the group’s singing.

And most important, these events are open to anyone of any age, of any singing ability (and if you think you can’t sing, these gatherings might help you find your voice). Children are most definitely welcome, and there are always opportunities for the children to choose songs that they like.

There’s no fee and no need for preregistration.  All you need to do is come and experience for yourself the joys of group singing.

For more information or for any questions email us at vtcommunitysing@gmail.com.

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