The Power of Music

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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.

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This entry was posted in education, food for the soul, German-American Society of Central New York, interdisciplinary projects, Music composers, music director, piano, power of music, singing, Teaching, Teaching in Germany, video conferences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Power of Music

  1. (This comment was originally posted on last week’s blog entry. It fits the music theme so I copied it here as well. Thanks, Joe.)

    It’s not too late to take up accordion.

    Also, the rage nowadays is “melisma” – something most western teachers would have been horrified by, when you and I were growing up in the sixties.

    Here in India, I went to a religious festival and heard somebody playing the Nagaswaram live, for the first time since my second trip to Singapore back in the day. In Karnatic music there are eighty-four ways to construct a scale.

    It would have made piano practice a lot more interesting……

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  2. Did you also play piano, Joe? And now accordion? I love that there are so many variations of constructing a scale. Creative minds and hands can weave all sorts of melodies and interpretations. Singers of blues use melisma. So are you more accustomed to Western music or Eastern? Are you going to try something new on the trumpet? I love to hear musical artists create different sounds when East meets West. Different countries, cultures, languages and music forms make life so interesting! Thanks for commenting. (posted by maryannniemczura)

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  3. PJ Miranda says:

    Great story Mary Ann , I enjoyed it . There are so many important things to teach and encourage children to learn, but Music is right up there with number one ! Music is confidence, health, healing, love, fun, patience, joy, praise and so much more ! What would life be like with no MUSIC ? You are so right ….. THE POWER OF MUSIC > God is Good !

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  4. Tom says:

    Music is beautiful and you don’t have to know the words to feel what the artist is conveying.

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  5. Sheila Niemczura Ryan says:

    A whole new world has opened up for me as I have renewed interest in the violin after 50+ years. While trained classically with focus on technical perfection, my heart and soul really wasn’t filled with the love of music the way it is now. Attempting various genres and exploring the wide variety of musical sounds my violin can make has filled my whole body and soul with a love of music. I am overwhelmed by this discovery and doubly overwhelmed at the pleasure my vocal and fiddle acts bring to others as I perform from my heart! (I love bluegrass and country swing)

    Rather than sharps and flats you mentioned in your blog, my current music immerses me into chops, licks, runs, backup, lyrics with chords. It involves playing with no sheet music, but merely being given given a key and being expected to play something that complements what my fellow musicians are playing. I hear things like 12 bar lead over the verse line, or let’s do it in the key of A with intro of 4 bar turn from E. I’m learning about the inner workings of a band, the meaning of particular glances or a raised eyebrow (you’re on..its your turn to play something “on the fly”) I am learning how to use the violin to play backup adding runs and tags, melodic interludes, harmonies and playing breaks. My “teachers” are the guys I play with who play the guitar and sing..no one reads music except me. Each used to have his own band during the 60’s to 80’s when live bands were in demand. They give me ideas as they can, but I do a fair amount of listening to country, blues and rock and roll to see what other violinists and fiddlers do and jamming to music tracks. There are times I (and they) get frustrated with my inability to play on demand, wishing someone would tell me exactly what to play. I’m supposed to just go with the flow (and the key) and play what’s in my heart. Wow, a far cry from playing those notes just as Beethoven had written. This is not like playing in an orchestra at all! I’m in a world of music totally new to me… along with amplifiers and microphones, backing tracks and basically learning how to make music together. It’s a trip!

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    • Wow, now this is the power of music and what I was talking about! I laud your efforts and the joy you have experienced. How very rewarding it is for you personally and for your audience. Kudos and keep making music!

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