Music has been an integral part of my life as far back as I can remember. My mother played the piano often, once her four kids could stand or sit still long enough. I remember her playing very old songs from a bygone era; songs such as “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” which I sang recently and still remembered the words! This was originally sung in the Roaring 20s when my grandmother was a young woman. Have a listen at Guy Lombardo and his band:
We grew up in the church so mother played hymns from an old Baptist hymnal from her youth. My younger sister and I listened in wonder and soon learned many of the songs of mother’s church piano playing days. When old enough my brother and youngest sister joined in as well.
Then when I was in school in the 1st grade we were taught songs that we enjoyed like “A Frog Went a Courting.” This song had something like 20 verses of which only a few I can still remember. Another song I can still sing is “Get Along Home, Cindy, Cindy,” which I heard sung by Rick Nelson on a John Wayne movie named “Rio Bravo.”
Our parents loved jazz so we listened to Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Al Hirt’s New Orleans jazz, both of trumpet fame, and Pete Fountain of clarinet fame. There was also classical music as well. Each of us had some training on a piano or violin.
As soon as we were old enough we joined the church choir and later attended church choir camp. I sang a one verse solo in front of a huge church when I was about 12 for the Christmas Cantata. My solo was to sing the cow’s song, from “The Friendly Beasts.”
I said the cow, all white and red.
I gave him my manger for his bed,
I gave him my hay to pillow his head,
I said the cow all white and red.”
When our family traveled, aside from playing the alphabet game with road signs, we would sing songs acapella, (without an instrument). We sang rounds and hymns and other songs.
As I grew up I listened to the radio (except when doing my homework because I ended up singing along and not doing the work). I used to listen to my 45’s, then LP’s. Later audio tapes then CD’s filled my ears with music. Now, possibly better, is Pandora!
Later when I started dating as an older teenager, my future husband introduced me to heavy rock. I attended concerts by Alice Cooper, Rare Earth, Yes, Queen, Neil Diamond, James Taylor and several more. My exposure to this music rounded out my knowledge and love for more and quite different kinds of music.
My future husband gifted me with 45s, the small records with a bigger hole in the middle than 33s. One I love was “Windy”, by the Association. I still remember.
To this day Carole King, Carlie Simon, Jimmy Buffet and James Taylor are my favorite musicians to sing along with in the shower or driving. I still enjoy their words and melodies. But I still love many of the hymns I grew up with as well.
At an early age I remember a dream that I had about a monster who was in the room with me. He grew bigger and bigger and more threatening until the moment I started playing music on the piano. He then calmed down and went to sleep.
I later wondered if this dream was precipitated from my young mind’s interpretation of the quote, or actually the misquote, “Music soothes the savage beast.” The actual quote is by William Congreve from 1697, “The Mourning Bride:” An excerpt follows:
Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
Music calmed, relaxed, distracted, inspired dancing and exercise. I remember fondly singing to my first son when he was a baby.
But my favorite of all pieces of music is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: “Ode To Joy.” See if you don’t feel joy! This piece moves me every time I hear it! Please listen to the whole video for the final effect of this exquisitely moving piece. I promise you won’t regret it!
There are many forms of music as well: the music of birds singing; the tinkling of water as it falls from a water fountain or a babbling brook; the laughter of a baby or child; the sound of the wind stirring the leaves of countless trees; the gentle sounds of a fragile wind chime; the exquisite sounds emitted by a gifted musician on a violin or other instrument.
Then there are the effects of music on us. When we are sad and need a good cry, some songs have a cathartic effect and help us heal. Other times, music can stimulate our boisterous side and make us energized.
I recently experienced another effect that I had forgotten. Music can make you want to dance. I went to my first dance party in years. I danced some Bollywood style moves, some belly dancing moves, some hustle, and other moves from the 60’s and 70’s. I just had to get up and dance (until I just had to sit down and rest!)
Music is all around us. Remember to be quiet and listen to the beating of your own heart and think of it as music. Revel in the diversity of the gift of music.