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FEB. 14, 2013

Living in Harmony: Group Singing at the Outdoor Academy

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We have a wonderful culture of group and community singing here at the Outdoor Academy. It’s one of my favorite things that we do here. Group singing is something I believe people don’t get enough of in our fast-paced, technology-driven world. Research has shown that regular group singing improves the mental health of a community. Singing brings us together in such a sweet, honest, and real way. We sing all day here, starting with the Good Morning Watch song. We sing this before our daily hike up to Copperhead Ridge, getting our voices, bodies, and minds a stretching before chores, breakfast and classes.

Good Morning Song:

Lift your heads the to rising sun, Children of Appalachia

Fresh new day has just begun, Give Thanks Appalachia

Draw the water, stoke the fire, stamp the (rain/frost/dew) right off your boots

Lift your heads to the rising sun, Children of Appalachia.


Before each meal we circle as a community, and following the introduction of the meal and any important announcements, our student leader of the day (which we call the Adasahede, a Cherokee term loosely defined as “spirit guide”) leads a song to bless the meal. Some of our favorites are “Down in My Heart,” “Happiness Runs,” “Peace Like a River,” “The Garden Song,” and “Simple Gifts.” Finally, our days at the OA end in the same musical way they begin- with the Good Night Circle Song:

May the peace of this valley around us,

The warmth of the fire within,

The shelter of the stars, above us,

The strength of the rivers nearby

Guide us safely through this nigh

Till morning lights the sky

Students regularly sing throughout the day outside of these formal occasions- music can be heard all over campus, be it folks in their free singing songs from the Eagle’s Nest Songbook or Music Students belting our Ballads, Sea Shanties or songs from Africa. Here is our Appalachian Sage Music Class sharing their favorite shanty “John Kanaka.” The role of song-leader or “shantyman”is played wonderfully by Charles, a student from Greensboro.


Give Thanks and Keep Singing!!