Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

HALFWAY DOWN, a Singable Poem in Illustrated Books

Posted on: May 5, 2010

One of my son’s favorite lullabies is “Halfway Down.”


Illustration by E. H. Shepard

Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

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halfway down book sbwe cover only
Halfway Down
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustration by Various Artists
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

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SBWE SBS halfway down
Halfway Down (SBWE Songbook Series)
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Page Coordinated by ELEG for SBWE Songbook Series
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

To view or print this page, click here:
SBWE SBS halfway down SBWE

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halfway down milne leigh grant
Halfway Down
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustration by Leigh Grant
From Childcraft Poems and Rhymes, Volume 1 (1976), p. 172
This sheet is for home, library or classroom use only.
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

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halfway down milne shepard color
Halfway Down
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard
To view or print this sing-along sheet, click here:
halfway down milne shepard color
This sheet is for home, library or classroom use only.
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

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halfway down childcraft tasha tudor - Copy
Halfway Down
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustration by Tasha Tudor
From: Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)
To view or print this Singable Poem, click here:
halfway down childcraft tasha tudor
This sheet is for home, library or classroom use only.
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

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SBWE SBS halfway down
Halfway Down (SBWE Songbook Series)
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Page Coordinated by ELEG for SBWE Songbook Series
Sing along with instrumental and melody, here:

To view or print this page, click here:
SBWE SBS halfway down SBWE

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HALFWAY DOWN 
Poem by A. A. Milne
Set to Music by Harold Fraser-Simson

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
Other stair
Quite like
It.
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where
I always
Stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn’t up,
And isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
“It isn’t really
Anywhere!
It’s somewhere else
Instead!”

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Halfway Down was first published as a poem in A. A. Milne’s 1924 book of poetry for children, “When We Were Very Young.”


When We Were Very Young
Poems by A. A. Milne
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

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When I was a kid, I listened to The Muppet Show record over and over and over (and can still sing every single song!).

Halfway Down is the 9th song on the Original Muppet Show Album.


Info about The Muppet Show album, here:
http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Muppet_Show_(album)

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Kermit’s nephew Robin sings “Halfway Down” on episode 10 of season 1 (Harvey Korman guest stars):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGFR3zz12p0

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A link to a synopsis/guide of episode 10, season 1 of  The Muppet Show (including information about Robin singing “Halfway Down”):
http://www.muppetcentral.com/guides/episodes/tms/season1/10_korman.shtml

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When my son began to enjoy lullabies, I was able to sing it from my heart.  But, a little research revealed that the song was written by Harold Fraser-Simson (who set many of A. A. Milne’s poems to music) in 1926.

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The sheet music for Halfway Down is published on pages 106-107 in,

100 Years of Popular Music, 20 – Volume 2
Published by International Music Publications Limited
(“Halfway Down” is printed on pages 106-107)

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The music for Halfway Down is also printed in,


The Pooh Songbook
Words by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustrated by E. H. Shepard

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A very kind friend of this blog wrote with a tip that an easy-to-play version of this song can be found in,

Toots and Twiddles: Tunes for the Young
Words and Music by Various Artists
Arranged by John Loesberg
Find Halfway Down on p. 22

(Special thanks to Jean-Louis for the tip!)

**********************

Halfway Down” can also be found in compilations of children’s poetry, including:

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Poetry Speaks to Children (Poetry Speaks Series) by Elise Paschen: Book Cover
Poetry Speaks to Children
Edited by Elise Paschen
Illustrated by Judy Love, Wendy Rasmussen, Paula Zinngrabe Wendland
(Halfway Down by A. A. Milne is printed and illustrated on p. 68)

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Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)
Published by Field Enterprises Educational Corporation
Words and Music by Various Artists
Illustrated by Various Artists
Halfway Down is printed and illustrated on p. 144
(The pictures above show the binding and title page)

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Here’s a Little Poem (A Very First Book of Poetry)
Words and Music by Various Artists
Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Halfway Down is printed and illustrated on p. 16

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“Halfway Down” is one of the songs we selected to be part of
Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret.”

Completing my Song Craft Worksheet is part of my process for working on songs for performance:


 Emily’s Song Craft Worksheet

Because the first section of the Song Craft Worksheet involves background research on the song, I’ll share the answers with you so you can know about the song, too.  The more about the song you know (both concrete facts and less tangible artistic choices), the more “authority,” and heart and soul you can put into the singing and sharing of the song with others.  If you are interested in improving your artistic abilities for singing songs in any capacity, just simply filling out the Song Craft Worksheet is a great place to start!  After the background research, the rest of the Song Craft Worksheet gets VERY personal…don’t worry!  I won’t bore you with that.

1 Q: Who wrote the words?
1 A: A. A. Milne

2Q: Who wrote the music?
2A: Harold Fraser-Simson

3Q: When was the song written?
3A: The words were written in 1924, the music 1924/1925

4Q: At what point in the lyricists’ and composer’s career was the song written?
4A: Middle

5Q: What is the song from?
5A: A. A. Milne’s book of poetry, “When We Were Very Young”

6Q: If from a show, what character sang it?
6A: This song was not written for a show, but it was featured on the Muppet Show and sung by Kermit’s nephew Robin

7Q: If from a show, from what situation does the song arise?  Why does the character sing the song?  What function does the song/character play in the story?
7A: NA

8Q:  What other contextual elements of the song are significant?
8A: For me, I adored this song on The Muppet Show record.  I always remembered it.  Now it is a favorite lullaby in the Gleichenhaus house.

9Q: Was the song written for a particular singer?  Why?
9A: NA

10Q: If not from a show, why did the songwriter write the song?
10A: This is a poem in a collection by A. A. Milne.  It is possible that he wrote this poem with his son in mind.  I’ve also read that Mr. Milne wrote his so-called children’s books acutally for the “child” in each adult.

11Q: What do you feel the lyricist is trying to say?
11A: I think what Mr. Milne is getting at in thi song is that every person needs a place to sit and let his/her mind wander, think, and imagine.  A safe place where we can create worlds of our own and philosophise on the meanings (or non-meanings) of things.  For me, my spot “halfway up the stairs” is that state of consciousness just before we wake in the morning or just before we go to sleep, when your mind can wander freely, play, create, rehearse and enjoy.

12Q: Does the song tell a story or just express feelings or ideas?
12A: This song wonderfully, elegantly expresses feelings and ideas about a place and a state of mine.

13Q: Who else has recorded this song:
13A: Jerry Nelson (as Robin on the Muppet Show Record), Jack Gilford, Rebecca Zapen, and soon…Emily

The rest of the questions require VERY personal answers and I will spare you those!

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Related Posts

*
THE WORLD OF A. A. MILNE

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/a-few-favorite-singable-books-the-world-of-a-a-milne/

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HALFWAY DOWN (A SINGABLE POEM)

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/halfway-down-a-singable-poem/

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CHILDCRAFT
The singable poems in Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/childcraft-poems-of-early-childhood-a-singable-collection-of-poetry/

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LITTLE SONGS, A NOTEBOOK OF SWEET LITTLE SONGS (MOSTLY SINGABLE POETRY) FOR TO SING WHEN YOUR BRAIN FEELS FUZZY
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/little-songs-a-notebook-of-sweet-little-songs-mostly-singable-poetry-for-to-sing-when-your-brain-feels-fuzzy/

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PLACES EMILY LOVES

Singable Picture Books related to some of my favorite places on earth!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/places-i-love-a-collection-of-links-to-spb-posts-featuring-some-of-my-favorite-places-on-earth/

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POETRY SINGABLE POETRY IN COMPILATIONS

An list of  singable poems from compilations of poetry for children
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/singable-poetry-a-list-of-poems-that-can-be-sung-from-illustrated-compilations-of-poetry-and-singable-picture-books/

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POETRY, SINGABLE POETRY IN INDIVIDUALLY ILLUSTRATED SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
A list of individually illustrated poems that have been set to music and can be sung
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/poems-individually-illustrated-spb/

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HALFWAY DOWN THE STAIRS, A SINGABLE POEM
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/halfway-down-a-singable-poem/

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A SINGING PAGE FOR HALFWAY DOWN
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/a-singing-page-for-halfway-down-from-childraft/

*
MUPPETS
ILLUSTRATED SONGS OF THE MUPPETS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/illustrated-songs-of-the-muppets/

*
Sing Books with Emily Songbook Series: Lullabies

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/sing-books-with-emily-songbook-series-lullabies/

*
Sing Books with Emily Songbook Series: Lullabies

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/sing-books-with-emily-songbook-series-lullabies/

*
SING BOOKS WITH EMILY SONGBOOK SERIES HOST PAGE
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/sbwe-song-book-series/

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5 Responses to "HALFWAY DOWN, a Singable Poem in Illustrated Books"

The music for the song is also found on page 22 of “Toots and Twiddles: Tunes for the Young,” selected and arranged by John Loesberg (ISBN 1-84609-712-6), and easily and cheaply available. However, the songs in this songbook are meant to be easily playable on any instrument, and thus the notes are (I presume) much simpler than the music written by Fraser-Simon. The “Toots” version is much shorter than the one made famous on The Muppet Show, but it’s still great to play (I play it on our piano and my ukulele!). I have no idea how it compares to the music as presented in the “100 years of popular music” or “the Pooh Songbook”, but I would be curious in finding out.

Dear Jean-Louis,
Thank you for this wonderful information. I will add it to the post. It’ll be great to have an easier version of the song to offer. How fantastic that you play it on the uke. I’ve got a uke myself and have been looking to find a teacher for my daughter and I to learn it. Please email me if you are interested in viewing the music. Thanks so much for your comment and the tip!
Yours Truly, Emily

Yes please, I would love to take a look at the music!

I’m just in the learning stages myself for both the piano and the uke. I found the simple strums for the uke a little boring, if one is just playing on one’s own, so I’m using either ‘fake music’ or simplified piano or vocal sheet music and finger-picking on the uke. Hence the Toots and Twiddles (and some from the big-note piano Great Big Book of Children’s Songs, from Hal Leonard).

If you are having a difficult time finding a uke teacher and want to teach yourself, a book I am currently going through and am finding useful is Steven Sproat’s Absolute Beginners Ukulele books (I have parts 1 and 2, but apparently there is now an ‘Omnibus’). There are also a LOT of good ukulele resources online – simply google “top 50 ukulele sites” and you’ll get a good list.

All the best!

JL

Dear JL,
Thanks again for all the great info! Coincidentally, I had just researched and planned to update the “Halfway Down the Stairs” post with poetry collections that host that sweet poem…and added the “toots & twiddles” to the line up! The song/poem is really one of my favorites (since first hearing it on the muppet Show album!). I sing the song to my children as a lullaby almost every night. Best Wishes! Emily

I would like to purchase a print of:
Halfway Down
Poem by A. A. Milne
Music by Harold Fraser-Simson
Illustration by Tasha Tudor
From: Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)

My wife and I grew up reading Childcraft Books, and this poem was one of my wife’s favorites. She would read it and re-read it over and over. I would like to provide a framed print @ 8.5 x 11 for Christmas as a surprise. She is fighting cancer for the second time, and I thought this might give her hope. Can you help me locate and purchase a copy?

Dale Johnson
509-251-2977
dalej818@comcast.net

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