Singing and Dancing for Peace

Linda Tringali singing with one of her classes.

Linda Tringali singing with one of her classes

Photo courtesy of Rachel Toroni

Linda Tringali — a Pacifica songwriter, folksinger, performer and children’s music teacher — gets much of her inspiration from the beautiful Northern California coast. She has worked with Bay Area schoolchildren for 20 years, bringing interactive children’s programs to libraries, bookstores, children’s stores and community events.

“One of the first times I remember writing,” Tringali says, “was when I was 7 years old. We had just moved from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Southern California. I missed my forest and wrote a poem to explain what I was feeling. Writing helped me look at situations, people, places and feelings in a different light.

“Then, in the eighth grade, I started playing chords on the guitar and would hear poems with melodies while I played. That’s when the songwriting started. In school, my poetry book was confiscated by the principal’s office, but my mom went down there and championed me and my poetry. This experience taught me to feel good about myself and validated the importance of my writing, no matter where it took me.”

In the early 1980s, Tringali was pushed out of her “comfortable closet of songwriting” and into public performances with another local singer and songwriter, Patti Jo Roth. Then, in the 1990s, Tringali started working with Wanda Bristow, an educator, dramatist, storyteller, women’s studies specialist — and her mother! Tringali also performs with Jackie Galloway, a local singer, songwriter and pianist. Galloway also worked on Tringali’s The Place of Our Dreams music CD, which was produced with the help of Pacifica’s Lee Parvin.

“I have never been able to control when a song will start,” Tringali says. “Sometimes it’s an idea I have to work on for a long while, maybe even years. My favorite kinds of songs are those that wake me up in the middle of the night. Then, there are songs that come to me in dreams. Most of my serious songs have felt like a gift that has come to me for a reason, and I am driven to write and share or perform them. It’s like being in the flow of something very precious and sacred.”

One of the highlights of Tringali’s life was when she started writing children’s music again. She says: “I was working with small children as a preschool teacher. I went back to school to learn about child development, and I was going to give the music a rest. As I got involved in classes, the music started to reemerge, and I became very involved in writing songs for early childhood development: sharing, peace, love and the environment.

“I found a great need for songs like these in the schools in which I was working. I have now developed a full-time children’s program, which includes music and activities that change monthly. After 10 years of development, my Peaceful Planet Kids Concert program is an interactive singing activity show — reinvented by the children every time — where the kids share songs and instruments. At the end, we all put on our dancing shoes and dance for peace.”

Why does Tringali do this?

“Every time I try to stop,” she says, “something happens that validates and propels me forward. I listen to those times and keep doing what brings me joy. I don’t let the hard, dark, analytical and critical part of me stop it. I have been blessed with a supportive family and a husband of 32 years, who was never really into folk music and might not always understand what I was doing, but he believed that it must be important if I was working so hard at it. True love is when your mate puts up with sound equipment in the living room during football season. Maybe I can get a song out of that!”


© 2013 Joanne Shwed

Originally written for CoastViews magazine