I believe in the magic of music. I believe in its astonishing gift of transformation. When I return to my childhood community’s country church for a funeral or other occasion, the familiar but aged voices singing forgotten Brethren hymns welcomes me like a prodigal child. Music lifts spirits, promotes dreams, creates romance and soothes crying babies. I believe in its ability to transport me through time, to assist me in recalling sights, smells and emotion.
I am not a musician nor do I have any actual formal education in music. My first organized experience with music was likely the music classes that were part of my rural grade school’s curriculum. My teacher, Miss Hallacy traveled the country roads to our farm community school and brought us music from Broadway musicals like Hair and Fiddler on the Roof. Many of the children in my school were Old Order Brethren and had no radios or televisions in their homes. Miss Hallacy delivered these wonders and ignited our interest with her excitement and enthusiasm. But my first memory of music were the Sunday afternoons when my father would relax in our living room, eyes closed, arms outstretched resting on the back of the sofa with his socked foot silently counting beats to the classical music playing loudly enough to rattle the old farmhouse windows. My father grew up the product of a broken marriage, in pre-WWII Netherlands. His youth ended at age 17 when he was captured by the Germans while transporting guns. He spent the balance of the war held prisoner. As a child I never questioned where these musical moments took him, as an adult I can’t even imagine without weeping.
Some of the sweetest and most simple moments recorded in my memory involve music. I have a memory of being soothed by the nearness of my brother whistling,” I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing” from Porgy and Bess. There was the time that my two oldest children, now in college, barked like miniature schnauzers to the tune of Eine Kliene Nacht Music in the back seat of our 87 Honda Accord. And one day, when I am very old I will cherish the memory of how my husband puts his hand on my knee and sings along as Elton John sings the verse, “Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen”.
Yesterday I attended a concert that concluded my 12 year old daughter’s summer music enrichment program. I was brought to tears, not by my daughter’s squeaky violin rendition of “Old Joe Clark”, although it was not without merit. My tears were inspired by the sight of dozens and dozens of “flip flop” clad feet silently keeping time while performing the Brandenburg Concerto #3.
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