Musical notes, beats, rests, keys, sharps, flats, major, minor, staff, treble clef, bass clef, rhythms, voices, moods, time signatures, adagio, allegro, forte, chant, chamber, carols, classical, dynamics, fermata, leitmotifs, sonata, staff, concerto, tones, voices – all this and more characterize the varied forms music contains. When I studied classical piano for 12+ years and in college, I immersed myself in the language of the soul: music. It is the true international language which comforts, soothes and lifts up the spirit. A lifetime of music still reveals its many facets to me. Probably the more difficult forms for me to listen to still would be the 12 tone music of Arnold Schönberg and the more modern techno music. However, instead of majoring in music in college, I chose German as my major focus and studied in Germany. I did not leave my music behind though and continued as a music director in several churches as well as piano playing at home.
First with Prof. LaForce in Massachusetts and later Mrs. Hardwick in Pueblo, Colorado, I practiced scales and became acquainted with various pieces of classical music including Beethoven, Bach and Mozart to name a few. My mother often played the piano while she and my father sang along. Afterwards my father would proclaim he was the best male singer in the family! What a corny joke since he was the sole male voice in our family. My Uncle Joe gave me his record player and record collection of 45 rpm records which introduced me to opera and Smetana when I was a teen. Later I acquired my own collection of popular music and played them over and over as teens do. My parents introduced us to orchestral symphony performances in Pueblo.
At the age of 13, I began to play the organ at church and sing in the choir. To this day, I still sing in the choir. Reflecting on the many influences in my life, I would have to say that music has had the most powerful effect. It is spoken and unspoken simultaneously. When I play the piano, I can interpret as I choose to fit my mood and the occasion. Frequently I sing with my students in German classes to share in my joy of music. Interdisciplinary projects with music have always remained in my video conferences with Germany and in awards ceremonies at school.
Before Christmas I visited my librarian friend and her family. With me was a folder of music for the season and church hymns which I played on her piano as we all sang along. Sometimes the phone conversations of late with my friend have left me wondering if she recognized me anymore. I am convinced my music crossed barriers and reached her where words might have failed. We spoke softly, held hands and prayed together. Music is food for the soul.
The many role models in my family as I grew up understood the meaning and power of music and allowed me to have that gift. My husband and I passed this gift on to our children with Mrs. Caravan as their teacher. For my reading audience, I have included photos from several video conferences when we sing songs and some students play instruments. And last but not least are photos of the school chorus under the direction of Mrs. Caryn Patterson, and string instruments performing for an award ceremony for the German-American Society of Central New York thanking the members for the many college scholarships they provide our German students in Central New York.
My wish for all of you is that you experience the wonder, the magic. the meaning and the power of music in its many shapes and forms. How many of you listen to music for pleasure or play a musical instrument including voice? Which song holds the most meaning to you and why? Please leave me comments on how music’s power has affected you in your lives.