Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some Thoughts About Music

Music has come up frequently this week and it's made me think about how much it means to me and how much I took it for granted. I read today from another author's blog about her love of music in her youth and how her family, being poor, didn't encourage her musical dreams.

Yesterday I was talking to my friend, Jodie, about her deep desire to play the violin and how her dreams were negated by her family and discouraged. She has a violin now but it sits around collecting dust, forever silent because her great wish was crushed when she was a child. It hurt me to hear her talk about the way her parents refused to allow her this small pleasure and how her flame of hope was extinguished.

I have been allowed every musical whim by my parents. I played the flute from age eight until I switched to violin when I was ten. My dad gave me the violin that his brother John played. It was that very same violin and its owner, John Douglas McNeal, that inspired my book, THE VIOLIN. When I was about thirteen, my dad introduced me to the harmonica and we played tunes together. My favorite was Shenandoah.

As a teenager, I became interested in the guitar. It was the era of folk music and everyone played guitars it seemed. It's a great instrument because, when you play it, it just seems to automatically invite others to join along in song. Maybe it was just the times we lived in then--make love not war.

After I was away from home living on my own, I took bagpipe lessons and, after memorizing the required seven tunes on the practice chanter, my parents bought me my bagpipes. I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but my dad and I shared the same birth date--March 18th. I'll tell you about the kilt episode another time.

I was never denied music. I was never told to only play certain music. Freedom was mine and the encouragement was always there to pursue my musical desires. I never appreciated any of it. But now, after hearing how others were discouraged and denied their love of music, I do.

So I guess I just want to stretch out my arms to the universe with my face toward the stars and say to my parents, wherever their spirits might be at this moment---Thank you, thank you for everything. Thank you for believing in me and allowing me such precious freedom to search for my place on this planet and to enjoy what it had to offer. Thank You!

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