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by Abigail Van Buren

Martyred Mother Must Make Up Her Own Mind to Change

DEAR ABBY: In our society, many people listen to music, but so few seem to appreciate the joy and other benefits of singing. When I was in Italy, I heard a group of men on a public bus break into song.

Many of my students have thought they were tone-deaf because someone told them so when they sang off-key as children. Thereafter, they felt discouraged and afraid to sing. Thus they were deprived of years of the natural freedom found in expressing their joy through song. Nobody who can speak normally is tone-deaf, and no one should tell a child that he is.

Parents should encourage children to sing, and should sing to them. Some of my sweetest memories are of my mother singing to me. She even made up songs for us. Pets love to hear their masters sing, too.

The Bible admonishes us to sing. It says, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." You don't have to be an expert or even sing in tune. Singing, like laugher, can be healing.

To paraphrase a verse I've seen in your column:

"Richer than I you will never be,

"For I had a mother who sang to me."

-- RALPH EMERSON, TACOMA, WASH.

DEAR RALPH: I agree that singing frees the anchored spirit, and the performance doesn't have to be of Carnegie Hall quality. To discourage anyone from giving voice to his or her emotions is hard-hearted.