Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 35 of 2012 - Music - Has it influenced you?

We came from a family where music was important. My Dad played piano and organ. He would sometimes be a substitute when our regular piano player was not able to play at our church and often played for Sunday School and MYF. We had a piano at home which he played regularly and tried really hard to spark an interest in playing the piano with all of his kids. I wish I had given it more attention. It was hard with your Dad being your teacher. I just did not want to practice. I must not have liked it all that well. His father, Everett Smith, played piano too. We have a picture of Everett playing piano and with his brother Fred. 

Fred and Everett
Our family sang ... I remember when I was a small girl, one Sunday when we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa's church in Lapeer, I decided to sit right next to Grandma Smith. It was my first time in church with her that I remembered. When the first hymn was sung, I was startled by the sound of her singing voice. I couldn't hear anyone else in sanctuary, only Grandma. She was a quiet minister's wife but in church she belted each hymn with gusto in a high pitched voice which to me sounded more like our cat, Spice when I stepped on her. I looked around to see if everyone was looking at us...The spirit of the Lord really moved her and it frighten me. It seemed that her whole personality changed and I just did not know what to make of it. From that time on, I always made it a point to sit at the end of the pew, the opposite end of the pew from Grandma. That way I was a bit further way so it was not quite so loud and I could peek at her and the other people around us to see how other people were reacting to her singing. I will never forget the time when she and her sister Florence were singing in church and then I knew it ran in her family! I loved my Grandma but I could never get used to the way she sang. 

Everett and Lillian - 1950
Many members of our family sang in the Church Choir. We have several photos of church choirs which Mom and Dad sang in and Grandma and Grandpa too! Mom and Dad sang in community choirs in each town that they lived in. Need I say.... we were singers! 

Harold and Leah in the Marine City Choir
 We sang in the car, we sang in church, we sang while we worked, we sang while we played, we sang outdoor, we sang indoors, sang while camping...Did I say we liked to sang?  "Ninety nine bottles of pop (never beer) on the wall", "Row, row row your boat",  "Jesus love me", The Little Spider song, you name it we sang it.  We sang pretty songs and we sang silly songs.  And that brings me to Dad!  For as good as my parents could sing, my Dad could sing really badly, much like his Mom, when he wanted to! Dad invented our silly off key Birthday song and we all still sing it today. When he started it, I think it was his way of teasing Mom. She would beg him every birthday to sing nicely...and every birthday he belted “Happy Birthday” off key and we followed his lead. 

When it became time for music in school, everyone of us  got involved with the school band.  I played flute. I began in 5th grade. There were quite a number of flute players in Jr High school once you put all the new 7th graders together. And I was always at the bottom of the pack. Our band director was Mr Middleton, he also happened to go to our church and I liked him really well. 

Mr Middleton and the kids at MYF - November 1967
He was looking for someone to play the Oboe, so I decided to try it. The fingering is the same a a flute but of course it is a reed instrument. It took some getting use to but I liked it real well and felt like I was really making progress. We could not afford to buy an Oboe, they were too expensive, so I used one that the school had.

In the summer between 7th grade and 8th grade, we moved from Romeo to Imlay City. When I started 8th Grade in Imlay City, I had to go back to playing the flute and back to last chair. Especially since I had not played it for over a year and I was the new kid who just moved to town. I was so disappointed. The Imlay City Band had an Oboe player already and only one Oboe in the school district.  I felt like and played like I was a year behind all the other kids and I really was. I was the new kid who did not seem to fit in either. All the other band members had played with each other all through school. After a few months of band, Mr Cummings asked it I wanted to play bassoon. I really did not know what I was getting myself into. I had always played an instrument which played the melody and playing the Bassoon would be very different. Now I had to learn bass clef, all the new note fingering, and play HARMONY..WOW...honk, honk, count, count, honk, honk, count, count, count.... I did more counting, tapping my foot than I did playing and the bassoon sounded more like a Canadian goose and than an instrument. ”Oh my, what was I thinking,” I thought at the time. I got discouraged and before long I decided to quit the band all together. It was strange, I really did not think I had any friends in band...until I quit...All the band kids became and still are my best friends. I just did not give it the time that it needed I guess or it just wasn't my thing. We all have the things that we are passionate about...band was not it for me.
I have always liked music, all kinds of music. When I was a teen, it was all about Rock and Roll, like all the teenagers! I remember sitting 2 feet from the TV and watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show and later the Rolling Stones! Then it was the Beach Boys, Creedance Clearwater Revival, the Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elton John and so many more. As I aged I have mellowed a bit, I started to listen to many other types of music and now have became a Country fan. I love a good concert. Today I like Sugarland, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn, and Keith Urban just to name a few.   I listen to instrumental and orchestra, and recently singing bowls!!!! Listening to Celtic Women with your eye closed,  just once, and you will magically be in heaven. Check out the South African band Sterling EQ. These four women are truly amazing!


So I guess you could say that music has had a pretty BIG influence on me and it still does today!

Happy Memories!


1 comment:

  1. I don't remember (that common phrase!!!) knowing that Grandpa Smith and Uncle Fred both played piano...and what a shame none of us were able to use those genes to keep it going. I do remember being so proud when Dad played...and loved when he played at home in the evening. Great job, Jan!