The Gift of Song

March 18, 2011

It was a bright spot in a very bleak day. We were struggling through the mountains in central-eastern Turkey. The roads were rough, the grades were steep, and the wind blew so hard you could lean into it and never fall over.

We met a couple of men at a roadside chai stop. They invited us up the hill and we soon discovered that they were teachers. We were introduced to their classroom full of Kurdish students, all dressed up in their bright blue-and-white school uniforms. As their teachers translated, the students asked us scores of questions about our travels.

Then it was time for them to sing for us. They lined up and struggled through a couple of short songs. Then one of the teachers singled out one of the girls and called her to the front of the room.

She opened her mouth and a voice mature beyond her age filled the room. I still get goose bumps listening to it.

The weather and the road were still bleak ... but that little girl's voice reminded us once again that the journey is always worth the effort.

The gift of song


Photos by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


Willie Weir March 25, 2011, 5:46 PM

Yes. I did use a external mic for this recording. Many new digital recorders come with exceptional mics for field recordings ... so using an external mic isn't as crucial as it was in the past.

db March 23, 2011, 8:30 PM

Do you use a microphone with the digital recorder? I was impressed with sound that you got of the singing -- very clear.

Thanks for sharing this.

Willie Weir March 23, 2011, 5:48 PM

That trip was in 2002 ... so I believe I was traveling with a Sony Discman then. The microphone you attach to it is important. But digital recorders are best these days for traveling.

I'm currently using a Zoom H2 digital recorder. Really good sound for the price. Of course, products are coming out so fast, I'm sure there are plenty of other choices out there.

db March 23, 2011, 4:07 PM

The girl's singing is amazing. What did you use to record it?

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