The 1812 Overture: The Memory of A Love for Music

The 1812 Overture: The Memory of A Love for Music

It was 39 years ago that I was a freshman in our high school symphonic band. It was that year the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky catapulted me to the first seat in the first section of flutes, after having to play it for our chair placements. It was half way through the year, and I previously held the first flute, third chair position. Being seated first meant that I performed better than anyone else in my section on my scales and on this most difficult piece of music – we had the full score, not a watered down version. I had played the piece with few errors for my band director and hence was sitting in front of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, leading the section. I remember thinking, “am I ready for this?” Playing the piece was exhilarating, exhausting, and challenging but oh, so worth it. Each time we finished, whether in rehearsal or concert, a sense of pride and accomplishment overwhelmed me. Here is a link to a version I found on You Tube.

The memory of band and this piece of music came flooding back to me last night as I watched the PBS special, “A Capitol Fourth”. I do not think the piece was played particularly well, nor did they spend twenty minutes of the broadcast playing it. But still, my love for music runs deep. At one point, in late middle school,  I considered being a musician but that idea vanished from my head after the above experience, and others, that showed me the politics and stress of chair seating in bands and orchestras. A girl I knew, and played flute with for years, simply wanted it more. “It” refers to leading the section. I do believe she went on to be a music teacher.  And I, being a shy introverted 15-year-old, let her have it. I never sat first flute, first chair again. I simply did not want to. I made sure that I had mistakes on my piece in future auditions!

This revelation did not dampen my love for music nor the importance it has played in my life. As a flautist, I enjoyed being able to play the melody in most pieces. As a piccolo-player, I was challenged and enthused to play the fast paced Sousa marches we all know. I love them all. I have played most of them. Among my favorites are The Washington Post,  Stars and Stripes Forever, & Semper Fidelis. These rousing renditions can take me back through time to the streets of a parade or a field show routine under the Friday Night Lights.

I played in marching band, symphonic band, and fireman’s band. I played solos, duets, and even quartets (known today, as a flute choir, most probably). Music was, and is, part of who I am.  My grandfather and mother, both, were musicians as youth, played clarinet, guitar, and piano. It seems cliché, but music fills my soul. I have been known to get choked up while singing hymns in church, shed a tear during a high school band concert, or sing a show tune while paddling a canoe – as I did just this past Sunday night.

I can and do appreciate the talent and skill of great artists. Music is a language all its own. Through artists and composers such as Beethoven, Aaron Copeland, Benny Goodman, Kenny G, Vince Gill, and Brian Setzer, who not only play the instruments but also write the language, we are unified as humans.

It was both enjoyable and disappointing to hear such a memorable piece of music last night on a national broadcast. The 1812 Overture is familiar to many and played at many National occasions. The sounds of the composition brought me right back to sitting in that first chair, first flute seat and memories of how much I loved being a band member. Music is an experience that stays with you for life.

 

 

Creating begets Creators

Creating begets Creators

There is no secret that I like to create. From a young age, I drew, learned to sew, and took pride in knowing how to make things. My grandmother made all my clothes for many years – Yes, all, except my underwear!  From my swimsuits to my winter coats, and everything in between, it was a creation of my grandma’s that I wore. She could create!

My Dad is a wonderful artist. One of my fondest childhood memories is a train he drew on the top layer of painted cinderblocks in our basement. It had many cars and the engine has our house number on it. Every time I walked down the basement stairs, I was entertained by that train! He also drew many wonderful posters for my mom’s third grade classroom over the years. Cartoon characters indicated which day you had gym or music or art class or when lunch time was. I was always in awe of those drawings and what he could create.

In college, I learned to crochet. We all made huge granny square blankets one winter in nursing school. It was a creative outlet for a group of serious nursing students learning to take care of the sick. It became mindless but productive. A time to rest. A time to create.

Now that I have a family of my own, I can see how being raised by a creator leads to creating. My husband, my boys, and I all create on a regular basis. It is part of who we are, and I think it is a necessary part of being whole.

My husband makes clocks and fine, solid wood furniture. Almost every table, bookshelf,  and desk, as well as a few dressers, clocks, and lamps in our home were made by him. They are lovely, well made pieces, he created. His wood shop has attracted our 17-year-old for years. Once my husband’s volunteer assistant, this young man has morphed into a creator of laminated skate boards designed by using CAD software and a C and C machine that he taught himself to use. He has even created busts of his friends on our 3D printer! We need to find some way to squeeze those skills of creation on to a college application, as those skills are important to him, even if they might not be measured by the institution he attends daily to learn. He learned himself. He is a creator!

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I make jewelry and have for ten years now. My creations have led to the most regular source of hobby income, as I have consigned to a number of gift boutiques and art or museum galleries over the years. My Etsy shop has been running since 2009.  Besides creating jewelry, I create curriculum. Reading and researching led me to create nearly all my lessons for the twelve years I ran an elementary school’s garden club. Math questions were created out of a desire to push myself to find ways to connect the subject to our garden club content for the students. The curriculum, the math questions, and of course this blog, are all creations, as well as the jewelry whose designs come solely out of my head and my heart, not a book.

Create. My youngest knows the word well. He created all of the origami pieces featured in a previous blog post. He tends to be obsessive about his creating phases. The origami craze took place a number of years ago. Now, he has moved on to colored pencil and charcoal drawings or drawings of mixed media. His creations amaze me, like this “old man drawing” he recreated from a photograph. His work takes many hours, as you can probably tell.

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And my oldest, a fresh college graduate, creates through using his mathematical, analytical, and statistical skills to find ways to help us from stop destroying our natural world. What better thing to create, than a better world?! He is also my writer – crafting pieces that have been read over and over by a teen magazine audience. How can you not be a creator when you take a micro-fiction writing course for fun? It what he did his last semester of school!  He must need to create, too! This is not to mention the music he creates with the care taken to learn complicated piano and saxophone pieces. Although the notes were put on the page by the composer,  the piece becomes a creation each time it is played and perfected by the musician.

There is no doubt in my mind that creating begets creators. So, if you have a creative child, you can most likely take some credit yourself for the making of another creator. And if you do not, start creating together. It will lead to someplace wonderful for both of you!

Inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: Create

The Simple Gifts of Memorial Day: A Day for Music & Remembering

The Simple Gifts of Memorial Day: A Day for Music & Remembering

Here in the United States, it is the Memorial Day Holiday. A day when we take pause to remember our veterans who serve and sacrifice to keep Americans safe at home and abroad. In our town, we have a very short parade consisting of service representatives who walk with our flag as part of the American Legion, the high school marching band, the middle school marching band, and the local boy scouts. It is a parade of patriotic music and acknowledgement for those who have given so much for our country, including their very lives, in many instances.  For many reasons, I  love Memorial Day.

This is the first year in ten that I do not have a student in either of the bands. Just as they march by us, time marches by as well. I missed seeing my boys in the bands, but I did not want to miss this parade. It is such a short, beautiful recognition of the best our country has to offer. Sacrifice, Love, Patriotism, Loyalty, and Music.

Thankful for the veterans in our family, my Dad, and my late mother-in-law and father-in-law, as well as all those who choose to serve in the armed forces, attending the parade is the least I can do. Each year, it fills me with pride and gratitude, a great way to start off the day and frankly, the rest of the summer season.

The parade also fills me with music. Music is something that can transport and transcend feelings. It has always been an important part of my life. Following the parade, upon returning home from the 15 minute walk that takes us to our main street, I immediately put in one of the two compact discs of patriotic music that I own. They are not new CD’s and the music is not new but it is beautiful and renewing. I am listening to it now.

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Songs like Shenandoah, Yankee Doodle, The Star Spangled Banner, Simple Gifts, My Country Tis of Thee, American Patrol, Washington Post, The Air Forces Song, The Marines’ Hymn, The Stars and Stripes Forever, Over There, God Bless America, You’re a Grand Old Flag, Fanfare for the Common Man, This Land is Your Land, and others will be listened to and sung with, as they carry me through today and the rest of the week to come.  Thank you Veterans and thank you composers and musicians for inspiring love for our country and countrymen.

 

Sixty Six, Sunny, & Some Music for the Soul.

Sixty Six, Sunny, & Some Music for the Soul.

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Being a mid-life graduate student in Environmental Education, I’m well versed on the positive effects nature can have on all aspects of your health. We need nature more than it needs us. Today, I lived what I preach and took my weekly walk a day early – alone.

By late afternoon, I took off down the road enjoying the sun, a warm sixty-six degrees, a cooling  breeze, and some of my favorite tunes from my iTunes library. Sheena Easton, Stevie Wonder, Glenn Miller, Toto, The Band Perry, Orchestral Arrangements of various pieces from Pirates of the Caribbean, Jackson Browne, the Zac Brown Band, Gloriana, and Steel Magnolia kept me company. Three miles, round trip, I walked along with a bounce in my step, a breeze to keep me cool, and songs to make me smile.

Usually, I walk with a friend and we try to solve the “problems of the world” during our one hour journey covering the roughly the same path I did today.  Today was for me – a tune up of my spirit using music, sunny skies, a warm breeze, and some great company – myself.

I noticed how green everything has become, the spring hyacinths and daffodils poking through the ground with touches of pink and yellow, the trees just trying ever so hard to leaf out dusting the ground with pollen, and the freshness of the air. It is spring. Nature is rejuvenating itself and nature is rejuvenating me.