Singalong
songbooks
now online

Price slashed on
easy sheet music
for 365 favorites

$24.95*

Plus electronic templates
for singalong lyrics sheets

Finally, a singalong songbook of sheet music with easy-to-follow melody lines, chords and lyrics for 365 oldtime favorites. Ideal for singalongs at nursing homes, senior residences – and we're finding that a lot of folks want them for their own use at home.songbook(A great help for beginning piano students.)

(To see a sample song page, click here, then right-click on the sample (several times, if necessary) and ask to 'view image.')

We now market and distribute our songbook, Sing Along with Ease, exclusively online: You order online with a credit card and we send you the book online via email for you to print out at home. While that requires a little work on your part, it eliminates the delay in mail delivery (often a week or more) and cuts the price by about half.

And we continue to offer a 100 percent money-back guarantee as well as unlimited technical support via email. If you're not completely satisfied with what we've sent you or how we help you via email, we refund all your money promptly.

The songs have been collected and transcribed over the past 20 years by the Hat Band, a family foursome of string players and singers who for those two decades have held singalongs at area nursing homes and senior residences as volunteers.

Marketed for years in printed and bound form, the songbook is the same one that has been used by the Hat Band in its volunteer singalongs. Any additional songs the band adds to its collection – it does so slowly – are sent out free to those who already have the songbook.

We also send out electronic templates of words to more than 240 songs that can be formatted into lyrics sheets. For volunteer singalong leaders, it's a great way to get audiences involved. For home use, it's a great way to help your guests sing along as you sit at a piano or with a guitar playing an old favorite.

To order Sing Along with Ease, use the PayPal button below. As soon as we are notified of the order (usually within 24 hours), we'll email you the songbook and lyrics templates.

Our money-back guarantee is based on the same sales philosophy we used when we marketed the songbooks by regular mail. Please see our entry entitled We trust you. (And please note that our attitude toward online financial transactions has evolved. We've found that PayPal has a gold-edge reputation for security.)

For any questions or assistance, email our site administrator at sidleavitt@yahoo.com.

* The old price of the songbook that we printed and shipped by regular mail was $39.95, and the shipping, because the book weighed about three pounds, was an additional $5.79 in the continental U.S., pushing the total price to $45.74.

(To Canada, limited to air mail only, shipping was $12.85, plus a $10 bank fee for processing international checks. That's a total of $62.80.)

The new price of $24.95 is complete, no extra charges.

Free books
still offered

from frustrated writers
to adventurous readers

This site offers a library of original text works – nonfiction, fiction or poetry of all lengths, published and unpublished – that have been submitted free by their authors. To find these, please visit the 'Works' section in the upper righthand column of this page. This site does not claim copyright to any of these works, and no modification of any work has been done except for style formatting. No work may be reused commercially, and any noncommercial reuse must give credit to the author.

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Sorry, we're not accepting any new works right now.

To comment...

Readers are free to download any listing from the 'Works' section, subject to the aforementioned restrictions, and to provide comments to the site administrator at sidleavitt@yahoo.com for publication in the 'Comments on works' listing. To comment on any excerpt or other post shown in the center column, simply do so directly beneath the post by clicking on the '(No) Comments' link. Unless otherwise specified, all comments will be published, subject to libel guidelines.

About us...

This blog was started as a nonprofit website giving writers a place to publish their work at no cost and readers a chance to read that work and, if they chose, to comment on it. Now we are concentrating on a singalong songbook, also an idealistic project that promotes volunteer music programs at nursing homes and senior residences as well as family singing at home, all through easy, low-cost sheet music. Although we no longer accept new works from authors, all previous submissions are still available in our 'Works' section. We also maintain a blogroll of diverse sites, all well-written, for readers to explore, although at present, no new sites are being accepted for listing. The site's founder and administrator is its first nonfiction contributor, Sid Leavitt, a retired newspaper editor who lives in Lake Katrine, N.Y.

This site is owned by Readersandwritersblog LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.

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Songbook goes online, price slashed

February 9, 2013

Our singalong songbook is now being marketed and distributed exclusively online, reducing delivery time to no more than a day and cutting the price by nearly half.

(Check our new ad in the lefthand column.)

Doing everything electronically, of course, brings our sales strategy into state-of-the-art – it’s how a lot of companies do business these days – but that’s not why we’ve made the change.

No, we’re just too old and too lazy to be printing out and assembling books and then trucking them off to the post office. Not to mention the delay in delivery, often a week or more by mail, or the price and extra charges our customers have had to bear.

No more packages – or checks in the mail. Now it’s all electronic using a credit card and the Internet.

When you order the songbook now, we simply email it to you and you pay us online through PayPal. The book comes as a 370-page pdf file that you can print out as much of or as little of as you wish. You can print out all 365 old favorites or just a few that you want for the time being. Or make multiple copies of the same song.

We also send you electronic templates of words to more than 240 songs that can be formatted into lyrics sheets.

Plus, unlimited technical assistance via email.

Yes, this all requires a little work on your part, but you get the songbook, lyrics and technical assistance within a day and at 54 percent of the old cost.

And if you’re dissatisfied, we refund your money in full, no questions asked.

The old songbook, printed and bound in a three-ring binder, cost $39.95. The book weighed about three pounds, so even at the lowest media rate, it cost $5.79 to ship by regular mail, a cost that was passed on to the customer, pushing the total cost to $45.74. For Canadian customers, postage was limited to air mail – $12.85 – plus a $10 bank fee for any international check to be processed. That pushed their cost to $62.80.

It’s now $24.95, flat, to anywhere. No extra charges.

The book is a collection of old favorite songs that have been compiled and transcribed over the past 20 years by our family band, the Hat Band, as we’ve held singalongs at area nursing homes and senior residences as volunteers.

We started selling the songbook as a way to help others volunteer to do similar singalongs. But in recent months, we’ve noticed customers ordering the songbook for their own personal use at home. The book is a great way to get back to that old piano or dust off that old guitar that’s been sitting in a closet for years.

And ever since we posted two videos on YouTube – ‘Play the piano in 19 minutes’ and ‘More ‘fake’ piano,’ both showing a simplified way to play the piano – we’ve had customers order the songbook to help them learn the piano.

The lyrics sheets are a great help to volunteer singalong leaders who want to get their audiences more involved. Or, if you’re at home, the sheets help your guests sing along as you sit at the piano or with a guitar to do a couple of oldtime favorites.

Now, what about that money-back guarantee? What if a customer wants a refund but has the electronic file already and can’t be forced to return anything? Well, that doesn’t matter to us. We’ve operated on mutual trust ever since we began marketing the songbooks some years ago, and we still abide by the honor system. (See our sales philosophy, We trust you. Note that our attitude toward online buying and selling has improved over the years because of PayPal’s reputation for airtight security.)

This is just an easier way to do business in a project that started with the altruism of volunteers hoping to encourage other volunteers and now needs to change. Because we’re getting older.

The average age of the Hat Band – my wife and I and her parents – is now 80. My wife is the kid at 66. I’m 73. Her parents are 88 and 92, both now using walkers and wheelchairs. We once did three or four singalongs a week. That got cut back to two, then one, and now we’ve taken the winter off to avoid the weather here in New York state and to rest up from bad colds and maybe a case of flu that we probably got at a nursing home or senior residence.

It’s just time to take it easier. Maybe some of you can take up the banner. If you do, hey, we’ve got a songbook deal for you.

– Sid Leavitt

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Play along with ease

March 27, 2012

Hello again, o faithful weblog. It’s been almost 15 months since we last talked, but I’ve been busy … well, as busy as a retired guy can be … promoting our songbook (yes, there it is in the lefthand column) and what it in turn promotes. Which is:

Easy music to play and sing along with.

An easy way to play that music is with what I call ‘fake’ piano. And that’s what I’ve been doing lately — making videos showing the basics of ‘fake’ piano.

I put the word in quotes because it’s not really fake. It’s just a simpler way to play the piano and have it sound pretty good — like you know what you’re doing. And at the bottom of this blog entry is a set of links so folks can see these videos and download a related set of sheet music and note and chord charts.

The downloads are free. With our best wishes.

I say ‘our’ because the songbook has been compiled by our family band — the Hat Band (we all wear hats) — and the videos are an outgrowth of that.

The songbook is a collection of 344 old favorites that we sing and play each week as volunteer singalong leaders at local senior residences. We — the other three members are my wife, Bonnie, and her parents, Glenn and Virginia — have been doing this for two decades at a number of senior residences and nursing homes. But lately, since we’re not getting any younger (our average age is now 79), we’ve cut back to only two singalongs a week.

We’d like to encourage others to start leading their own singalongs, and we hope the songbook and the videos will help.

But that’s not the only reason. These materials can also help someone just play at home on a piano that’s been ignored for years or on that guitar that’s been collecting dust since the ’70s.

Our band uses three instruments — Bonnie and I play acoustic guitars and Glenn plays the banjo and mandolin, sometimes also a fiddle (Virginia is a great harmony singer and emcee). We’re all strictly amateur musicians, but our audiences welcome us as if we were professionals.

Sometimes after the singalongs at one of the senior homes, I sit at their grand piano and play instrumentals of some of the old songs as the residents are wheeled or led away to their rooms.

I’m certainly no great pianist — you can tell that from the videos — but I’ve been faking it for years. And it sounds pretty good.

So check out these links. You don’t need the songbook. I’ve included sheet music for the six songs covered in the two videos, and the note and chord charts also are free.

Here is the first video: ‘Play the piano in 19 minutes.’ And here’s the second: ‘More ‘fake’ piano.’

Here’s the sheet music (see note below for best printing): From the first video: ‘Down in the Valley,’ ‘Amazing Grace,’ and ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon.’ From the second video: ‘Edelweiss,’ ‘All of Me,’ and ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.’

And the charts (same note applies here): Melody Notes (all positions), Chords 1 (C, C7, D7, Dm, F, Am, G, A) and Chords 2 (B7, E7, Em, Cm).

Best wishes.

– Sid Leavitt

NOTE: Once a sheet music link has opened, don’t print the first image. Instead, save it to your desktop (right-click on it and choose ’save image as’), then open it from your desktop and print it. (The print of the first image will be too small.)

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Come on along for the ride

January 3, 2011

balloons Yes, our songbook is ballooning, and a lot of volunteer singalong leaders are rising with it. Here’s how that happens:

When we in the Hat Band add a song to the book, Sing along with ease, we send free copies of the sheet music to everyone who’s already bought the book. That way, everyone’s repertoire grows.

When we began marketing copies of our book last January, it contained 313 songs. It’s now up to 331, all old favorites that are ideal for singalongs. Most of those additions have come from audience requests, some of them from our farflung group of songbook customers.

The process is simple: When we find a song we like, we convert it to simple sheet music in a singable key through a computer program called Finale PrintMusic. That gives us an electronic version of the song that we can print out for our own songbook and that we can email to everyone else who has the songbook. They print out the song and they’ve got it, too.

Now, I can’t say we’ve sold hundreds of the books in our first year, but it’s been in the dozens. And they’ve gone to a wide market — from New York to California, from Canada to Australia.

We’re not dealing with a mass market here. Singalong volunteers are, sadly, a rare breed. (Although I know of at least one case where a customer wanted a songbook just to help him improve his piano skills. Sing along with ease, with its single-note melody lines and simple chord notations, is ideal for someone who wants to dust off a guitar or return to a long-neglected piano for a little solo music at home.)

Basically, we’re in a small niche. Or, to add yet another metaphor, on the big ocean of the Internet, we’re in a little rowboat. But we stay in touch with others who’ve joined us bobbing around on the waves. And as we find additional songs, we mass-email them to everyone else, helping to raise the tide that, as they say, lifts all boats.

Or, to return to our original imagery, the balloon gets larger and more buoyant. And as long as the Hat Band keeps adding these wonderful old songs, the sky’s the limit. We all go up. We hope.

– Sid Leavitt

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We’re ballooning

May 13, 2010

balloonIt’s a form of inflation, but one we’re glad to live with: Our songbook, Sing along with ease, keeps getting larger.

It’s a slow process, but steady. Since we started promoting the book in January, its contents have increased from 313 oldtime favorite songs to a current total of 318. Now that’s not very fast, but two years ago, before we started committing the songs to computerized sheet music, the total was around 250.

When I began doing weekly singalongs at our county infirmary more than 17 years ago, I started with only six songs. They were given to me on mimeograph paper by the activities director who had accepted my offer to play backup guitar while she led the singalong. Well, she didn’t show up for the second week, so I was on my own from then on — and desperate for sheet music, which is the only way I can play. So I started scraping together songs from any place I could find them, copying them onto staff paper by hand, and the rest is, as they say, a burgeoning songbook.

A great help in this process has been my father- and mother-in-law, Glenn and Virginia Sunderman, who joined me shortly after my first singalongs, and then their daughter, Bonnie, my wife. We play as the Hat Band (we all wear hats) and do three singalongs a week at area nursing homes and senior residences.

There is a downside to our songbook’s slow but steady growth — our shipping costs also are growing slowly but steadily. In January, the songbook weighed just under three pounds, and the cheapest postal rate — the media or book rate — for that weight was our original shipping cost, $3.16. Then we found it necessary to add bubble-wrap packaging, and that pushed the cost to $5.40. Then we added some ‘new’ songs, and now we’re over three pounds and at a shipping cost of $5.79 per book.

The three-ring binder we use has the capacity for another 240 songs, but I doubt we’ll reach that number any time soon, so the shipping costs for our future customers should creep up only slowly. And our growth, by the way, will be shared by our past customers at no cost because they’ll get the additional songs for free.

One of the neat things about our Internet age (and there are many things that are not so neat) is that we’re electronically connected to our customers. And so, as we add songs to the book, we can send out electronic copies to those who already have bought the book. Although it’s a free service, it’s really nothing to brag about — we simply send a mass email with the added sheet music as pdf attachments to all our songbook customers for them to print out for themselves.

It’s nice to know we’re all using the same songbook, no matter where we live on this planet.

A note about what songs we add: We always get suggestions for additional songs, but only infrequently do we add them. They have to be the right era — oldtime — and songs that a lot of people know. Musical quality isn’t always the criterion.

For example, we just added ‘On Top of Old Smokey,’ not a musically challenging song but one that our audiences know and sing along with (which is the whole idea, right?). And then there’s ‘Darling Nelly Gray’ …. well, yes, that is a case of musical quality …. one of the most beautiful, saddest songs ever written.

And there’s ‘Waltzing Matilda,’ a song to which I knew only the chorus, and frankly, it bored me. But then we started getting customers from Australia and I couldn’t imagine a songbook without the unofficial Australian anthem, so I looked up the whole song and found it much better than my preconception.

It’s about an itinerant traveler who stops somewhere in the outback to brew some tea and spots a wandering sheep. The man is hungry, but the sheep’s owner and his posse aren’t far away, so …. Well, you’re just going to have to buy the book.

– Sid Leavitt

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Singalongs make for smaller world

April 12, 2010

world-musicSince we started selling our singalong songbook a few months ago, we’ve gotten orders from various parts of the United States and Canada, but it wasn’t until we sent one to Australia that it really struck me:

This little songbook …. well, not really little, since it has sheet music for more than 300 oldtime favorites …. this collection of songs that we’ve compiled and sung for the past 18 years has traveled out of town, out of state, out of the country and now out of the Northern Hemisphere.

The songs that our little family band shares three times a week with folks in our small town are now being shared with folks in farflung parts of the wide world.

That same thought struck my wife, Bonnie, at about the same time:

‘I like to think about people in all these places singing the same songs we do,’ she said. ‘It’s spreading the cause.’

And what cause is that? Well, it’s not money, although we hope to make enough to keep printing and shipping out the songbooks. No, it’s to help people who would like to volunteer to lead singalongs at local nursing homes and senior residences, as we in the Hat Band do. And to sing along with their friends and family, as we also do. And to share these songs with younger people.

We’re not trying to compete with rap music or hard rock. But we are trying to keep alive those songs that have been favorites over the past century and a half. They’re part of our shared heritage, or, better said, a heritage that should be shared. Because if it isn’t, it dies.

When I was a kid, the country was coming out of the Great Depression and nobody my family knew had any money. So folks would get together at somebody’s house with a few bottles of beer — and sing. In the 1934 movie ‘It Happened One Night,’ Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable are on an old clunker of a bus one stormy night when all the passengers decide to entertain themselves by singing. They all break into ‘The Man on the Flying Trapeze’ (three verses and the chorus of which, by the way, are in our book, Sing along with ease).

Try that today and you’d probably be arrested by the bus driver or, in the earlier example, thrown out of the house.

Our new friend in Australia is a 70-year-old gent who sings and plays guitar in, as he put it, ‘rest homes and community age care situations.’ When he saw the songbook ad on our website, he didn’t realize we were in New York state. The book weighs about three pounds, and shipping it to Australia cost him an extra $15.29 over our regular U.S. shipping charge of $5.79. He was willing to pay the surcharge. Although he didn’t say it, frankly, I don’t think you can find another songbook like this on the Internet.

You know, one of the songs that isn’t in the songbook is ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ I think we’re going to have to add it one of these days. And when we do, we’ll send an electronic copy to everyone who’s already bought the songbook so they can add it to their collection.

Ah, cyber-technology. A newfangled way to save oldtime favorites.

– Sid Leavitt

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Songbook improves again: Free add-ons

March 28, 2010

betterOur singalong songbook is no longer just a musical experience for us in the Hat Band. Now that we’re marketing the book to others, it’s also an electronic experience that keeps showing us ways to improve it.

So we’re adding two new services to the book, Sing along with ease, that came out of requests from customers. And both add-ons are free:

1. Additional sheet music for songs that we add to the book in the future.

2. Electronic access to our lyrics templates.

The first add-on occurred to us when a customer suggested two songs that are not in the songbook’s repertoire. Now, the songbook is the same one we in the Hat Band (we all wear hats) use when we do singalongs at local nursing homes and senior residences. We get suggestions all the time about additional songs, but we add them only when they feel right to us. (The current list of oldtime favorites rose to 314 songs when we added ‘Umbrella Man,’ which, like many of the songs in the book, was suggested by an audience member.) Again, we add songs to our repertoire only occasionally, but when we do, we’ll add them as well to the songbook we market. And we’ll send them to anyone who already owns the songbook, as we did with ‘Umbrella Man.’

Now for the second add-on: Each songbook includes templates for lyrics sheets that are intended to be copied on a copying machine, then the copies cut up and reassembled into program sheets that can be copied and handed out to an audience (an ideal way to increase audience interest and participation). But for those who are a little more adventurous on their computers, we’ll provide, upon request, an electronic copy of the templates that can be reformatted, for example, to make the type larger than it already is (currently 14-point). Actually, those customers with moderate cyber-skills can reassemble their own lyrics sheets on their own computer and print them out without need of a copying machine.

Just in case you think we’re offering a lot with these add-ons …. well, we are, but it’s neither difficult nor expensive for us to do it. We make up the sheet music on a home computer, and we have an email list of all our customers, so it’s just a matter of sending out one mass email to all of them with one attachment for the new sheet music. And it’s just as easy to send out an electronic lyrics template to anyone who requests it.

In the end, we’re not trying to make a lot of money. (I’m about to turn 70, two of the other three band members are in their 80s, we’ve all lived frugal lives, and we intend to keep on doing so.) No, the songbook came out of a desire to get more people singing those songs that, like the rest of us, have weathered the years. We think it’s worth doing, and we think others do, too.

Besides, once you’ve paid for the instruments (or the songbook), it’s all free entertainment from then on.

– Sid Leavitt

NOTE:

The little guy with the magnifying glass in the image at top was found at Global Search Network, a website maintained by an executive management recruiting group.

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We test-fly our own planes

March 1, 2010

Well, not really — we don’t have any planes — but here’s the point:

Unlike many manufacturers, we regularly use our own product — a sheet music songbook of more than 300 old favorites that we take three times a week to singalongs at local nursing homes and senior residences. And we continue to improve it.

Because like our customers, we’re also new users of the songbook. The songs are the same ones that our little family band (we call ourselves the Hat Band because we all wear hats) has sung for the past two decades, but the book itself is new to us, too.

Our old songbook was a stiff-sided heavy binder that was stuffed haphazardly with hand-punched sheet music, much of it handwritten, and that always threatened to fall off the music stand. Our new songbook, Sing along with ease, is a collection of professional sheet music, done on a computer and arranged alphabetically, that sits in a sleek binder of soft-sided, durable vinyl.

It’s a great improvement, but that slick new binder has one annoying characteristic — the soft vinyl has an electrostatic attraction to the first and last pages in the book, trapping them in the binder rings when the book is closed and eventually causing those pages to tear. So we came up with a simple fix:

fly leafThe songbook now has front and back fly leaves of cardboard-like paper that is heavy enough to ignore the soft vinyl’s electrostatic attraction. The book now opens and closes just as slick as it looks, with all the pages under control.

The fly leaves are green, reflecting their recycled content, and we’ve mailed a set to all the customers who’ve bought the book so far.

So get your new and even more improved Sing along with ease songbook today, and get out there and start singing along (or stay inside with the family — or just by yourself — and do the same thing).

We may be a tiny company that can’t fly its own planes, but we’ve fly-leafed our own songbooks.

– Sid Leavitt

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How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

February 22, 2010

bachOur new songbook, Sing along with ease, isn’t guaranteed to get you there, but it will help you practice, practice, practice.

That’s one of the benefits of the songbook that I don’t often think about, but the subject came up while I was visiting a local music store the other day. The store owner said the book would be helpful to kids learning the guitar or piano.

Well, that’s occurred to me before. Because the songbook is laid out in single-note melodies that would be easy to follow for someone learning to pick out songs on a guitar or piano. The chord changes are right there in the appropriate spots over the melody lines. And most of the songs are in the ‘easy’ keys — C and G — that don’t have a lot of sharps and flats in them. (Actually, between the two of them, there’s only one sharp — F-sharp in the key of G.)

Furthermore, the book’s introduction shows where to find both guitar and piano chords — every chord that’s possible to play on either instrument.

For a lot of young people, the songbook with its more than 300 oldtime favorite songs would be a revelation to a different era — actually, several different eras — of music. Some of those young students might learn to like some of those songs.

And frankly, when I think back to my days as a young piano student, I realize that most of the music in Sing along with ease is a lot younger than the Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin that I had to learn and that presumably young students have to learn today.

One final thought on this subject: Learning to play guitar or piano isn’t just for kids. I’m still learning both, and I’m about to turn 70. And that’s where Sing along with ease can be really valuable. A lot of adults have heard a lot of those old songs, and I’ll bet a lot of them would like to play them as well.

Look at the image above. If old Johann Sebastian can take time to practice the guitar — and lefthanded to boot — I guess any of us can.

– Sid Leavitt

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We trust you

February 6, 2010

felixOrders for our new songbook, Sing along with ease, are now coming in, and I thought we should explain some of our sales philosophy and procedures.

First, we don’t use any online payment service such as PayPal or Google Checkout. Having grown up in a different era than most of today’s consumers, we feel really uneasy about letting someone we don’t know into our electronic bank accounts. So we use an older method — the honor system.

When you order a songbook, we ship it to you. When you receive it, you mail a personal check or money order back to us. That’s it.

So, you ask, what if someone doesn’t mail back the payment or their check bounces? We look at it this way: Our book is just a big collection of old songs that we’ve sung at nursing homes and senior residences for the past 17 years and that we think would be useful to others who want to do the same.

If we can’t trust somebody who loves old songs and wants to sing them along with old folks or maybe just their own family members …. if we can’t trust them, then just who can we trust?

So that’s how it works: You order it, we ship it, you get it, you pay. A few other details: The sales are conducted by the Hat Band, which is the name of our little family band (we all wear hats), and payments are made to me, Sid Leavitt, for the Hat Band. Our mailing address is 868 Neighborhood Road, Lake Katrine, NY 12449.

Another detail, this one that I regret: We’ve raised our shipping cost from $3.16 to $5.79. The lower figure is the U.S. Postal Service’s book rate, its lowest mailing rate but also its slowest for delivery. We originally intended to ship the books in simple envelopes made of Tyvek, an extra-tough (and inexpensive) Dupont plastic that also is used to wrap houses as a water barrier. But then we realized some of these parcels could be five to seven days in transit, so we reconsidered and chose instead a heavier bubble-wrap envelope that accounts for the extra $2.63 in our shipping cost.

On the other hand, we expanded our original songbook offer by adding a free set of templates for making lyrics sheets for audiences. So we hope that’s some kind of offset.

You know, I ordered one of those TurboSnakes the other day — it’s a twistable wire snake that you use to unclog a drain — and it was only $10 for two different sizes. And better yet, they doubled the offer — four TurboSnakes — and all I had to do was pay separate shipping and handling. Well, the S&H was $6.99, and doubling it made it $13.98, plus the original 10 bucks — my $10 order all added up to $23.98. But if you’ve ever struggled with a clogged sink or stood in six inches of water while taking a shower or bought a couple of jugs of liquid drain cleaner at $6 a pop, the TurboSnake still looks like a pretty good deal. Provided, of course, that it works.

Sing along with ease does work. Even if the real price, including the shipping, is $45.74. Because it’s real sheet music — simple melody lines and chord changes that require only basic vocal and-or guitar or piano skills, all the lyrics, each song in a singable key and each on one page (no flipping required) — and there are 313 songs. Most sheet music costs a couple of bucks for a single song. Our sheet music costs less than 15 cents a song.

That’s the end of my latest, as a musician would say, pitch.

– Sid Leavitt

NOTE:

The image at top is, of course, Felix the Cat, that wonderfully naive feline whose innocence never seemed to get him into serious trouble. His origins date from the early 1920s, although there’s some dispute over who created him — either Australian film producer Patrick Sullivan or American cartoonist Otto Messmer.

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Now, song sheets for your audiences

February 2, 2010

lyricsOur little band has experimented for years with ways to provide song sheets for the audiences at our singalongs, and now we’ve come up with an effective and inexpensive method to do just that.

We’re adding it to our songbook offer at no extra cost.

But you do need a copying machine (or access to one). And, oh yes, a pair of scissors and some cellophane tape.

The breakthrough to our method came when we finally realized that copying individual pages of sheet music was not the best way to get our audiences more involved. For one thing, the lyrics on sheet music — even simple sheet music like ours — can be hard to read, especially for older audiences, because the lyrics type has to be small enough to coincide with the melody lines and still fit on one page. For another thing, copying sheet music can get expensive, especially since you don’t get all the sheets back after the program.

But the music really is important only to the volunteer vocalists and-or musicians leading the singalong. Audience members don’t need all the melody staffs, notes and chord changes. They just need the words.

But how best to provide them? Well, we could bank a series of lyrics on one sheet of paper. But then, another problem. What if folks wanted to sing only one song from that page and another on another page and another … you get the idea. You’d end up with scores of pages and audience members shuffling through them. Finally, we figured it out:

The singalong leaders could decide ahead of time what songs to sing, then cut out just those songs, tape them together to make sheets with multiple lyrics, then copy those sheets for the audience.

So we’ve made templates for more than 240 of our songs to which audience members are likely to know the tunes or that they’re likely to want to sing. The templates have the songs basically in the same alphabetical order that they appear in the songbook, and each song is separated by a dotted line to make cutting easier. The templates — and this is important — have to be copied first and then the copies cut up to make the song sheets.

This also is important: The templates are printed in a type that is larger than that on the sheet music, so it’s easier to read.

The type looks something like this.

One set of templates is included free with each songbook we sell.

We’ve managed to get those 240 or so songs onto two dozen sheets of paper. (NOTE: We’ve put the songs on both sides of the templates, so whoever copies them will have to copy one side on one sheet of paper, the other on another, to avoid chopping the back side in the middle of a song when cutting one from the front side. That’s why the templates have to be copied first.)

Once the lyrics sheets are compiled, of course, they can be copied again on both sides of the paper — one sheet on one side, one on the other — to economize again on paper. You can get enough songs for an hour’s program on two pieces of paper — that is, four sides. So for a crowd of, say, 25 people, you need no more than 50 pieces of paper, fewer if folks share the lyrics sheets.

As I said, it’s been our experience that you don’t get all the sheets back from the audience. Some forget to return the sheets (a few forget they even have them), but many like to keep the lyrics. A woman just the other day told us she wanted to sing the songs to herself in the days between our appearances.

Hearing that made up for all the sheets we’d lost.

– Sid Leavitt

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