Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Björnen sover" (the bear is sleeping), Prairieland Strings, Aug. 21

Blast email sent out to my Prairieland Strings and Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music lists tonight.

Hi everybody --

Our "third Thursday" session of the Prairieland Strings is from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson. Bring your copy of Steve Seifert's "Join the Jam." Let's just go around the circle and either: (a) pick some tunes we already know; or (b) go around the circle and pick some tunes we don't already know.

"Björnen sover," the song in the headline, is sung to the same tune as "Gubben Noak" (Old man Noah), a famous drinking song by Sweden's Carl Michael Bellman, who was a lot like Robert Burns and wrote about the same time. Clips are posted at:

Be forewarned, though: I've got some extra copies from my presentation at Bishop Hill of a Swedish children's song called "Bjørnen Sover" (the bear is sleeping), and I'm *very* tempted to introduce it. (That's pronounced be-YORN-en SOW-ver, by the way.) It's a bouncy little tune, it's fun to play and it's very, very simple. Steve Smith of Asheville, N.C., has mountain dulcimer tab -- with notes and chords -- on the Everything Dulcimer website at:

Scroll down to "Bjørnen Sover" and click on the PDF link, but I've got plenty of copies. If your computer doesn't have the right plug-in for the sound file (mine doesn't), here's a nice version in Danish, with cute graphics:

I'll post some more about it to Hogfiddle. The song is Swedish, but it's a favorite with young children in Norway and Denmark, too. The words (in Swedish) are:

Björnen sover, björnen sover
i sitt lugna bo
han är inte farlig, bara man är varlig
men man kan dock, men man kan dock
honom aldrig tro.

Which translates, literally, as: The bear is sleeping, the bear is sleeping, in his calm den. He is not dangerous, if only one is careful, but one can never, one can never trust him. I would sing it like this:

The bear is sleeping, bear is sleeping
In his quiet den.
The bear may not harm you,
But he should alarm you.
You can never
Never ever
Never trust a bear.

OK, OK, it isn't great literature! But the words do fit the melody.

It's also a circle game. There's a good description on the website PYP PE with Andy [Vasily], who teaches pays ed in the Primary Years Programme at an international school in China:

The game Björnen sover when translated into English means, "the bear is sleeping". It is a great game involving running, dodging, and music. The games starts off by selecting a person to be the sleeping bear. This person lays down with a circle of students holding hands and walking around the sleeping bear. I used a CD with the sleeping bear song and played it while the kids walked clockwise around the person pretending to be the bear. Slowly the bear begins to wake up and stretch then comes to their knees and feet. The entire time the students are still walking in a circle around the bear. Once the bear makes its move to start running the students scatter. The student that the bear catches becomes the next bear and the process repeats.

Warnings!!! The kids love being the bear and will try and be caught on purpose. …

I'll post a couple of videos to Hogfiddle. Hope to see you Thursday!

-- Pete

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