Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude, Day 26

Well, I started a whole other post which I decided to leave for another day because I wasn't happy with how it was turning out and now I'm not sure what to do for today. It was about books and writing, but I got lost in a sea of titles and don't like how it was coming out... so I'm going to switch to music.

I'm so grateful for music, all kinds of music. What would my world be without music. It has been a profoundly important part of my life. As a child, I played the piano and sang and it probably helped to keep me sane and whole. I loved folk songs and at one time in my life (possibly somewhere in the deep cavities of my brain still) was the repository of a pretty extensive collection of folk songs from all over the world. I loved playing the piano and I'm so grateful to have my keyboard, though frustrated at how much I have forgotten. I love singing, though my voice isn't what it used to be. I used to have sing-alongs when I lived in the city. What a wonderful thing to gather with others and sing. There's not much that matches it in life.

It's a fairly well kept secret that I started my college career majoring in music. I played the clarinet. Unfortunately (long twisted family story) I was uncomfortable having people hear me play, which doesn't go so well in a professional music setting. Nerves eventually flunked me out of the music program at Fredonia, but not before I discovered my soprano voice (I had always sung tenor) and had some wonderful experiences, like singing Benjamin Britten's War Requiem with the Buffalo Philharmonic and meeting and singing under the baton of Pablo Casals. Awesome, humble man.

Nerves ruined a lot for me musically, but I did have some cool experiences in spite of myself. I (can you believe it!) auditioned for and got accepted into a pretty hoity-tointy madrigal group in the city but was too insecure to stick it out. And I got into the New York Choral Society. Lasted through the Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall with Peter Paul and Mary. I made myself ill (literally) with anxiety. I made it through the two performances but was too ill to attend the party at Peter Yarrow's house. How dumb is that! Still, I sang at Carnegie Hall with PP&M and the music was wonderful. During the days when I attended the little Lutheran Church around the corner from my house, I sang much of the liturgy. I loved doing that. The LCA had a beautiful vespers service and it was wonderful to sing it. Gee, maybe when I'm done with this post, I'll pull my hymnal off the shelf and take a trip down memory lane.

And of course there's Bach, and Mozart and Schumann and Dvorjac and... so many styles and moods and tones. One of the wonders of music is that there is a style and composer/musician for everyone of us and for every mood and moment. Music touches profound places in most of us and it (I think this is true) links the left and right sides of the brain. Sometimes people with strokes who have lost language can still sing or recite poetry (I think this is accurate) because the information is stored in a different place in the brain. How incredible the world is.

And there's popular music. I'm bad at names and sort of out of it. I won't even try to list groups or individuals I like. There are many but the names aren't coming to me. The Beatles, of course... and for some reason the "Jeremiah was a bull frog" song comes to mind. That song always makes me happy. John Denver always makes me happy too. And Enya and Loreena McKinnett... but they are probably all more "folk." I do like soft rock. Hard rock, not so much, some jazz but not all. But I'm just rambling now.

There's also the music of life itself and the wide-ranging sounds of cat's purring, the wind in the trees, birds songs, waves lapping against the shore, rain on the roof, laughter, weeping, babies laughing... or crying, children playing... so many wonders for the ear to take in.

I'm so grateful to have ears to hear and a voice to speak and sing.

That's it for today.

Hope you have a wonderful day
rich in music and laughter

and a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow.


quilly said...

Raven -- I love this post! I love it because inside I get to learn more about you -- who you are and what shaped your life. More of these please!

Jeff B said...

Music is such a memory booster for me too. I know scientifically smell is number one, but I've got to think that music and sounds are number two. Once in a while I'll hear a song that I haven't heard for many years. It's amazing how it'll bring me back to a particular place in time.

The "music of life" as you called it is quite remarkable too. the sound of waves crashing on the beach is one of my favorites.

This has been such a great series to take in. Thank you for sharing a bit if Raven with all of us.

Mimi Lenox said...

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving filled with love and blessings.

Geraldine said...

Wow, those are some memories Raven,impressive! Thank you for sharing these with all of us. I too am grateful for the gift of hearing and beautiful music.

I have also been inspired to do a Gratitude list, after visiting your blog yesterday.

Happy Thanksgiving and Hugs, G

Melli said...

I agree with Quilly! THIS was a great post! And I am duly impressed! I LOVE Peter, Paul & Mary! I can't BE-LIEVE you got sing with them! You must have a beautiful voice! (now I'm green with envy!) I grew up on them -- Lemon Tree, 500 Miles, If I Had a Hammer, Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, Ohhhh my! And... Puff, the Magic Dragon ... my first love affair with a dragon!

Music IS the heart of me too -- or it IS the language of my heart anyway... I'd be a sad sad sack without it - for sure!


storyteller said...

What a magnificent photo to start with ... then writing about music (one of my favorite things) in such a resonant manner and closing with that cute little squirrel. I loved this post!
Hugs and blessings,

Carletta said...

I've been able to post but not visit and comment so much.
I missed this one and it's terrific. Folk music is a tie we have together. I used to sing folk music at 4-H Club events and of camp in the summer.
Peter, Paul, and Mary was the first music book I ever bought. I still have the book. You got to sing with me - what an experience Raven!
Love the squirrel pic.

gel said...

I adored this post. I am not musically talented in singing.
WOW_ to play with P, P, & M! Whohooooo! Sorry your anxiety interfered. They are one of the first records I ever owned and it's ironic that there is a P, P, & M reference in my current sunrise post.

I wish you could have pursued your music. Music is one of the main ways I cope with life's "stuff" past and present. I sing alone or with friends who don't judge. I often use it to calm myself. Music is a wonderful gift and was the theme of my first blog "Good Vibrations."

Folk music is a youthful tie my husband and I have, too.Cute squirrel.

gel said...

Oh, how could I forget? Music is what inspires my art. (painting & jewelry design.) It's the music within me, not music on a radio or record player, I mean CD player, I mean I-pod., :D (Showing my age...)