When I saw the challenge word for this week, MUSIC,  I thought, wow, I could write 52 posts on music in my life. I’m not a professional musician but music is the thread that runs through my entire life. 

One of my earliest music memories takes me to a hospital bed when I was four and had pneumonia. I had a roommate named Cathy and as we recovered we broke into song as we jumped on our beds. 

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

LOL..You can google the first two words and find it is a popular song by the MERRY MACS in 1944.

Cathy and and I recovered (penicillin saved us) and I went on to enjoy a life filled with music. I lived north of Chicago, Illinois where WLS was the popular country radio station. No TV in my early years so the radio music was our main entertainment including, yes, The Grand Ole Opry!

Joan at the piano

But music was my life in so many other ways. I started taking piano lessons and dance lessons around age 7. I wonder now how my parents could afford those lessons. I’m sure that they were striving to give me all the things they never had.  I was much better on the piano than dancing! After 8 years of piano I became the organist for my church. I would accompany musicians in high school for the music contests. People said I was a good pianist but it took an awful lot of practice for me to play pieces to my satisfaction. I always wished I could just sit down and play the music I heard. Now that is a gift to be able to do that.

Singing in groups was another huge part of my musical life. First of all, my Mom’s family was kind of like the Carter Family. Sitting around singing country music with all the guitar players was a regular feature of  family gatherings. My Uncle Tom and Aunt Loretta were the ones I loved to hear the most. They were like June Carter and Johnny Cash. My teenage girlfriends loved to hear them sing. We learned a few of their favorite songs like, Kentucky (the Everly Brothers) and Precious Jewel (George Jones). (You can google these.) We (Lynn, Maryann and I) were so good that somehow we were invited to sing on the local radio station! But that career was short lived. 

My family bought an old player piano and a collection of piano rolls that provided hours of entertainment and fun. My Dad decided to hook up the vacuum cleaner to pump the pedals and play the piano. That worked but the vacuum was too loud to hear the piano and singing!! We had a roll of a song called Twittering of the Birds, a long but beautiful and challenging piano piece. I decided to learn the song by watching the keys on the piano as they went up and down. Well that was a challenge but I did it! I learned it by heart and over the years played it occasionally. I never had the sheet music but some years later my stepdad, Harry, found the music for me! I was amazed he found it and astounded that the sheet music was written in the same key I had learned.  Another little player piano story is that my friend Lynn and I loved to sing a song titled Artist’s Life. This one I cannot find on Google.  The lyrics are something like: “It’s great to live an artist life, we’re all so free from care and strife, if we have a franc we have luck to thank, for we never sell what we paint!” Over the years Lynn and I have challenged each other to sing this song and we always wind up remembering it all even at age 82!

I sang in the church choir, high school chorus and university choral. What a glorious thing it is to sing the Hallelujah Chorus with 200 other voices! I loved to harmonize and generally sang alto or second soprano. At the University of Illinois one of my dormmates was Shirley Hill who introduced me to classical music in a big way. She was an opera major and she had a record player and a large collection of classic instrumentals that I had never heard. There’s a picture in my head of the first time I heardEine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart! I introduced my Mom to this and we entered a new world of music. It happened that the A&P grocery store was giving away LP records of classical music with purchase. We collected all of them and that huge album of classics followed me into married life.

I am so thankful that my parents and extended family promoted and supported my musical life. I have no doubt that this love of music is passing on down through the generations. When I hear Great grandson Evan sing Can’t Help Falling In Love With You my heart overflows! But that is another musical story!

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