Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Family Music Making

One of my very favorite things in the world to do is to make music with my children. These days I don't get enough opportunities to do so but I know with the little boys just beginning to embark on their music education there will be more in my future. I now understand why my own dad tried so often to get me to play with him when I was at still at home. He didn't have a very big repertoire on the guitar and mine was completely different from his so I found it difficult to play with him. I also hadn't had much of a music education aside from a couple years of piano lessons and wasn't very good at improvisation and jam sessions. He grew up without any music education and expected me to be able to play without one too. But after my kids got involved with orchestras I had the opportunity to play orchestral percussion and I learned so much during my years with them. The learning curve was steep and long but my playing and musical understanding improved greatly.

Several of my kids have had music lessons and opportunities but the two that have stayed with it are Katie and Seth. Both of them took piano lessons but Katie also learned the flute and played in a couple orchestras. She even had the privilege of playing flute in an orchestra in Zurich while she was living in Switzerland. Seth dabbled with the cello while he took violin lessons and eventually took up guitar, mandolin and viola also. He has played with numerous orchestras, participated in a concert tour to Europe and had several solo concert performances on violin. He is currently playing viola with an orchestra in the city. He definitely has the musical talent and ability to play by ear that my dad had wished I had.


Back in 1999, when Seth was nine years old and Katie was sixteen we played Ashoken Farewell together at a church talent show. Seth ended up bringing down the house that day by burning up a few fiddles tunes and winning the first prize.



When I was in Michigan with Katie in October, waiting for a baby, we occupied ourselves by playing music. Jonah hadn't really heard his mommy play flute or his grandma play anything so he at least was mightily impressed. He even put a tip jar on the piano and would add his homemade money to it whenever we played. We also entertained a few Amish visitors who stopped by to use the phone. They don't play or hear instrumental music of any kind in their communities.




My playing is not of the caliber of my kids. My old fingers and slow brain just can't keep up with them but I have fun none the less. I wish my dad were here to participate too. He'd love to see his grandkids keeping the family music-making alive.

If you don't have an aversion to mistakes (mine!) and out of tune pianos, this was the way families enjoyed music before the invention of Ipods and CDs.

Merry (4th day of) Christmas!

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