Posts Tagged ‘music’

Old Songs of Bygone Days

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011


After writing my love story a couple of weeks ago, I was looking for some feel-good music that would take me back in time. As I blasted the music and sang with gusto to my husband, I told him this was how I felt about him before we were married, and that I still felt this way. He grinned and thought I looked too preoccupied to cook, so he took the spatula out of my hand and continued cooking as I sang into a pretend microphone. I could tell he didn’t even like the songs, that he was putting up with my nonsense just to be nice. But he grinned nonetheless.

The sappy music brought back memories of when my sister used to babysit me. She would crank up the tunes, and all four of us girls would sing and dance around the room, skating with our wool slippers across the hard floor. Ahhh, yes. The bygone days. The music brings back all the feelings associated with that era. My whole life was before me back then. My dreams were as big as the universe. The possibilities for my life were endless and exciting.

More memories were triggered, and I saw my parents slow dancing to 50’s music. I thought it was cute, and it made me feel secure. My dad played those 50’s records on the record player. Sometimes the record would skip, and we would pick up the needle and place it back down on the record.

I remember playing 50’s music when I made a restaurant in my sister’s bedroom. It was a romantic cafe. I had a tablecloth on a card table with two folding chairs. I lit candles and my three sisters helped me to serve my parents from the menu. My parents picked whatever dessert they wanted, and I went back to the kitchen to have my older sister scoop out the ice cream into two dishes. My parents looked happy at my restaurant. The ambiance was wonderful. Life was happy.

Sometimes it’s fun just to crank up music and be silly with your family. Love songs are particularly good to play when you are alone with your husband, since music from your dating days will evoke the same emotions that were there when you heard them back then. Music is powerful in improving your mood as well. So go ahead and crank up the music. Let the good times roll…

Mandatory Music Lessons?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

mandatory-music-lessonsI’m trying to decide whether my 10-year-old son should take piano lessons or not. Let me start by saying that when I was a young teenager, my parents forced me to take piano lessons for two years. Two years of misery. Two years of doing something I was not good at, over and over again, willing my fingers to hit the right notes but failing. Pounding the notes louder and louder ’til I got in trouble. I hated those two years of mandatory music lessons. I’ve never played the piano since. Why would I? I was never any good at it.

But did I learn anything from it? Perhaps perseverance. But that can be learned in other ways. Did I learn how to harmonize? Yes. But maybe I learned that in the boarding school choir. Did I learn to read notes in case it was an emergency and I needed to play the piano? Sort of. Not really. And what exactly is an emergency? Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to be a missionary, and I envisioned myself in some rural village, married to a preacher who needed me to play the piano. But in what fantasy world would there be a piano in the middle of a poor rural village? And why couldn’t we sing a cappella? Voices with no instruments sound beautiful to me, more worshipful.

So would I ever be in a situation where it was mandatory to play an instrument? Now that I have entered middle age, I can confidently say no. The vast majority of the population never takes instrument lessons, and they’re not less smart. I don’t know why we as homeschool parents feel that if every single student of ours doesn’t take instrument lessons, they will end up being worse for it. What if they ended up using that same amount of time doing something they were good at, that would allow them to earn a scholarship to college? Or maybe they would just have a nicer life, not having something they despised in it.

Years ago when my oldest son was only six years old, I found a book that promised to teach you to play the piano in one afternoon. I used that to teach my children piano lessons. I had a small toy piano that was wooden. I got some cardboard and glued black felt to it. With chalk, I marked the music bars. I sprayed it with hair spray to keep it in place. Then I nailed it to the wall above the tiny piano. I made cream-colored felt notes, and I would place them in different places and ask my children which note it was. They learned to read notes. They learned the major chords. It took one month. I hated teaching it. It was the first time I hated teaching my kids. It was because my oldest son would throw a fit because he didn’t get the notes right the first time. He would scream and be frustrated and hit the piano. I was exhausted.

Yes, I see this situation as poetic irony, but I’ll move on.

My second son was only five years old, but he played the notes confidently the first time, with no instruction. It was such a joy to teach him music. My third son was three. He played the notes over and over until he got them right. He never got frustrated.

My second son, who was a natural, always had an affinity to playing the guitar. He would intently watch the worship leader’s fingers as he played the guitar. Finally after praying about it for years, we finally had enough money to buy him a guitar when he turned eight. We’ve paid for music lessons, and they’ve been worth it. He’s advancing quickly. He can tell if his guitar is out of tune. (I can’t.) He’s a natural. I don’t mind throwing my money at something that God obviously gave him as a gift.

Okay, now comes the story of my oldest son. His mind is incredible. He’s going to be a mechanical engineer. He is an artist, too. He has a mathematical mind. He likes talking philosophically. But at church he sings loudly, completely off key. He has no pitch, and you remember how those simple piano lessons were like pulling teeth. I hesitate to give this boy piano lessons. Money is tight. Why waste the money and produce misery?

Another thing to keep in mind is that I prayed years ago that whenever God wanted me to pay for piano lessons for my oldest son, that God would give us a piano for free. Then I would know. I was so confident that this would never happen that I felt relieved that I didn’t have to think about it any more.

Until this Christmas, that is. Our in-laws got us an electronic keyboard. I panicked briefly, looked up at God, and asked him if that counted as a piano? I still don’t have my answer. To complicate matters, my oldest son thinks he wants to take piano lessons. I know that learning piano is supposed to be good for your mind, but so are a lot of other activities that might be more productive. Please comment below and tell me your opinion as to what I should do. I just feel that the decision needs to be made now, because when my son is in high school, he will have way more subjects to study, possible apprenticeships, part time jobs, and other interesting things. In my mind, it’s now or never.

A Pretend Symphony

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

pretend-symphonyMy husband and I were called to come downstairs to hear the children’s pretend symphony. My son Bryan had overturned some pots and tupperware to create a drum set. My daughter used a funnel as a trumpet. My son Stephen played his guitar. Nathaniel was the conductor. He tapped his chopstick on the bookshelf to get the musicians’ attention. Then he began waving his baton, and a cacophony of sound permeated the air. Whenever the conductor moved his baton quickly, the music sped up; whenever he moved it slowly, it slowed down.

My husband had a smile on his face as the show went on. It didn’t sound good, but, boy, were they having a good time. Ah, yes, creativity at its best.

Bugs Bunny Symphony

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Bugs-Bunny-symphonyThis last weekend my husband and I decided to take our family to the Bugs Bunny symphony. We had never taken our children to the symphony, even though we had studied the different instruments of the symphony when they were younger. We had also gone to a free symphony in the park, which included fireworks. Anyway, when my husband and I saw that the symphony was going to be playing classical music from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, well, we just had to go. Our whole family loves Looney Tunes.

We got the kids dressed up, and we arrived at the theater where the symphony would be performing. Little did we know that there was going to be a screen with Bugs Bunny cartoons, backed up by the real symphony! It was so funny to see Bugs Bunny directing. The real director, as well as Bugs Bunny, both bowed to the audience, and the real symphony seemed to be led by Bugs Bunny himself! What a hoot! I glanced over to my husband, and we grinned at each other. I was glad we had brought Rachel. She’s 5 years old, and we’ve taken her to see a play before, but she gets antsy to sit for so long. If I had known that the show would include Bugs Bunny cartoons throughout the entire show, I wouldn’t have hesitated to bring her.

Chuck Jones (the director of the Bugs Bunny cartoons) was actually born iBugs-Bunny-symphony-2n Spokane, Washington, right here where I live. Another interesting fact was that the antique theater where we were sitting used to be a movie theater with an orchestra. Yes, people who paid a dime to go to the movies saw a 5 minute newsreel, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and a double feature, backed up by a live symphony. We sat in the very room where people nearly 70 years ago watched something similar to what we were watching.

My whole family enjoyed the show, and I was only sad that I hadn’t thought of bringing my dad. He is a big Looney Tunes fan, and to hear a real symphony performing all those classical songs would have caused him to chuckle. “The Barber of Seville” was sooooooo funny, as well as the “Kill the Rabbit with my Shield and Magic Helmet” (or whatever that is called). Those were two of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons of all time. The grins on my children’s faces were priceless, and I’m sure that because of this show, they will probably love classical music for the rest of their lives.