Music is everywhere and transcends the ages. From rhythm sticks in a cave to a line of water glasses in kindergarten, the human condition is enhanced by music.
Melodies are meant to be shared. Boys make music for girls. Mothers make music for babies. Birds make music to tell the world this is their tree.
My family is musical. My mother-in-law sang in the Oahu Symphony Chorus for many years. I started singing in the church choir when I was in third grade. I even got to sing in the folk choir at church when I was in sixth grade. Then the high school glee club. I don’t have those chops any more, but I do alright in the shower.
There is music I don’t get. I don’t see rap as music. Disturbed and troubling poetry, yes. But music, no. My colleague Linda would probably present a very good case for rap and hiphop. To her credit, she is an old soul, grew up in the radio business, and understands where I’m coming from. No wonder I like going to the noodle shop with her for lunch!
My daughters are at piano lessons right now. They are just this side of wonderful, at such a young age, and I am convinced the practice enhances their ability to do math, or just to grasp theories that have as many tangents as we have fingers. Sophie is now taking viola at school. This summer, she’ll tackle another instrument in the school program. I am so pleased for them.
My niece and nephew in Iowa City are very accomplished as a result of the strong piano foundation, with no small effort on the part of their parents who battled for regular practice over the years. These teenagers also play other instruments such as cello and drums. Emily is presently considering colleges and her musical background weighs strongly on her decision as it will account for scholarship assistance. Thomas is looking into a summer music camp at Berklee. How cool is that? All because Mom and Dad hounded them to practice, practice, practice!
My New Jersey nephew Adam, whose father would draw a pretty good following in the Philly and South Jersey nightclub circuit, is very articulate in guitar. After a year in sound engineering at the University of New Haven, he is now in environmental engineering at Drexel University, because he says he was looking for more of a challenge in math and science. I can only imagine what the future holds for him, as he’ll always have his guitar.
I used to think it was odd that Thomas and Adam would wear T-shirts with music heroes from my era on them: Jimi Hendrix, TheWho, a big red Rolling Stones lips on a black T-shirt. Why don’t they get their own music heroes?
Then I realized my musical heroes are their musical heroes for good reason. They pondered life with lyrics, melodies and rhythms that got in the face of The Establishment. Their messages made social history to save the environment, to free love, to demand an end to war, to treat each other equally, no matter what our creed, race or gender. They taxed their guitars on stage with passion, tension and energy. I paid my $20 for concert tickets and watched in the darkness, soaking up the vibes. I still cling to the belief that a guitar solo can communicate a message that only a soul can interpret.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world.
When we were strangers, I watched you from afar.
Music has so many messages. Take your pick.
May the music never stop.