Tag Archives: Music

Sing Out a Welcome

American music. Think Country, Jazz, Blues, and Folk.

While is music is a form of entertainment and communication that crosses boundaries, it also has roots. And the Mid-South region of the United States has a jumble of them. The plants they support have grown, evolved, and even seeded new forms through the decades.

On our recent road trip (another great American institution) we found a state proud to proclaim their musical heritage.

TN Welcome Center

Yes, we make a point to enjoy a little music during our stay.

Snappy Uniforms

First you hear the drums.  Then the brass. A good solid, marching tune.

I can’t help it. A marching band is the highlight of a parade in my mind. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Or even genetic. I’m aware of one great grandfather who played the baritone in the town band. (I’m not sure if they marched. They had uniforms.)

Left foot first. Stay in step. Even steps. Trombones in the front row. (If you’ve ever sat in front of them in a concert band you understand why.) Keep the row straight on a wheel turn. Eyes front.

This fine group of military musicians and guards never miss a step. They are known for their hats. But I like the bright red tunics even better.

Doing the Queen -- and their commanding officer - proud.

Doing the Queen — and their commanding officer – proud.

Impulsive Instrument

Music. It offers stress relief. Sets a mood. Offers a laugh.

Much of the music in my home in recent years comes from CD’s. A selection of favorites runs in the background while I work on the computer. It was not always so. Or at least the format was different.

The college dorm resonated with radio stations and recordings at varying volumes. By artists of varying abilities and aimed at different tastes. The daily commute equaled radio time with a mixture of music and news. Housework goes better with Bach…or the Beatles, or Sousa.

But sometimes I appreciate a quieter, unscripted melody. It plays year round. Summer, when the window is open I hear it best. Gentle at times or more insistent, depending upon weather conditions.

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A Simple Instrument

Holiday Memories

When I was a child…

Lots of conversations begin with the above phrase at this time of year. It seems that the holiday traditions of our youth are the ones that stay most firmly in our minds. It’s easy to remember the positive from the past and find the present lacking in some way or another.

Music gained importance during December childhood years. We had practice for concerts at school. Extra rehearsals for a church program. Favorite records (yes, I’m that old) came out and filled the house with seasonal sounds as we cleaned and cooked and decorated. Even the music on the piano stand developed a holiday flair. And for either the good or bad, other family members would sing while either mother or I played the piano.

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Popular December music. In the future too if you can trust the photo date. (I won’t.)

Celebrating Pairs

Valentine’s Day. Hearts & Flowers. Man & Woman. Engagements & Weddings.

Sometimes good things come in pairs.

This past weekend I celebrated with Writers & Musicians. Participated in a concert with TWO groups playing Bells & Chimes. Then we adjourned to Chocolate & Punch.

A few pairs I look forward to:

Chips & Dip; Potatoes & Eggs; Sunshine & Flowers; Coffee & Conversation; Cardinals & Evergreens.

A Positive Pairing

A Positive Pairing

Do you have some favorites?

Assignment: Beautiful

Beautiful. Pleasing to the senses. Being specific can be easy. Or difficult.

An object which I think is beautiful may impress another person as ugly, sad, even disturbing.

At a recent gathering of Christian women, we were asked to get up from our seats and find objects in and around the building which we considered beautiful. Photos were encouraged.

My mind sought order that day. Was this in response to some sort of disorder? The murmur of conversation as fifty women ate breakfast in small groups? Perhaps. Prompted by the herd or not — I headed toward a goal and found it.

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Orderly piano keys representing beautiful music.

Musical Tree

Regular readers of this blog are aware that I frequently write of trees, garden plants, and other growing things I observe. Today’s photo will feature a tree, but not a wooden one.

This one is definitely man made. The creator paid attention to detail and considered the surroundings during the design stage. It has an Oriental flavor in the shape of the leaf replacements and their positions. Even the material selected fits the theme.

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Unlike the small, traditional wind chime in my garden, this one is a collection of individual, coordinated bells. From bass through tenor and alto to soprano they gain the attention of Botanical Garden visitors. A piece of musical art in a public space.

 

If You Want To Be…

It’s a catchy little tune.

I learned it during my 4-H years in Wisconsin.

My children cringed, put hands over their ears, and left the room when I sang it. They were well mannered enough to limit themselves to a face of displeasure if we were visiting my parents and both mother and I launched into it.

Either male children don’t care for that particular foolish song or they didn’t spend enough time in my home state to appreciate it.

I think it’s the latter. They learned plenty of silly melodies and non-traditional words to common melodies. But they never got the hang of this one. Do they not like to sing about emulating a particular species of weasel?

Let’s try it with a visual aid.

All together now —

If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me, by the bright shining light, by the light of the moon; If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me, By the bright shining light of the moon.

What’s not to like??????

 

 

How Many Notes?

My bell stand partner has been to the music store and is all excited.

They have duets. Play one with me. Hand bells and organ – I’ve already talked to our director (she doubles as organist, triples as choir director).

The ability to say “NO” to flattering invitations slips away. We arrange a practice time, arrive on schedule, and lay out the bells. I don’t want to count them. How can such shiny, elegant brass and leather instruments intimidate?

Missed notes, wrong notes, late notes lead to laughter. Begin again. One, two, three, four. Move bells around for easier changes. Again.

Next practice we each miss fewer notes. I mark extra spoons with note notations and practice at home. In my head, as I count, it’s beginning to sound a little like a hymn.

Weeks, then a month goes past. Are we ready? A practice or two with the organ. Yes, it will work. We play from our hiding place in the balcony for a summer service.

More practice. More confidence. More tricks learned to position bells for quick changes. Passages memorized from repetition. (And because page turns come in the middle of the most difficult phrase.)

Courage. Confidence. Circumstance. No hiding for a special service as we give a Thanksgiving duet.  Taunt nerves relax at the end. The same relief remembered from after the first concert with beginning band all those years and miles away.

 

 

Two Notes

Would you like to play bells?

I’m flattered and timid at the invitation. Is this a reward for singing in a small church group recently disbanded?

Hand bell groups, usually based in a church, are fun to both watch and listen to. The bells shine, flash, and give off an unexpected array of sounds. Can I do this?

With my courage pushing me forward I report to the first practice of the season. I’ll only have two notes to keep track of. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself this past week.

Acquaintances point me to the white practice gloves. The director assigns me to my place – the lowest bells of the three octave array. I’ve four to ring – two basic notes and their accidentals. Lowest in the left hand, higher in the right.

Keep the beat. In several places these low notes serve as the bass drum in a band. Dong. Dong. Dong. Then — a run, syncopation, key change — how did I miss the repeat sign?

Stubborn is a family trait. I return the next week. And the next for practice. Then nerves blossom as we walk in front of the congregation for the “special music”.