I can tell it is spring by my allergies. They kicked up a storm about three weeks ago, and I have been dealing with them ever since. My lawn was littered with crocuses for three weeks. Today they disappeared, but the daffodils in the bank broke into blossom. About my prolific crocuses, my husband's cousin's wife cleaned out my flower bed one year while I was working. She did not recognize the crocus bulbs so she tossed them out into the yard. I have had a prolific crop ever since.
In the last couple weeks I have had the pleasure of attending both a choral concert and a band concert at one of the area schools. People are always asking if these courses are really necessary. I weigh in with a resounding "yes." Students who have a lot on their plates still enjoy the arts. It is also a saving grace for many who do not excel in other areas. The American way is that we teach all of the children. We must keep the arts in order to fulfill this obligation.
My reaction to the music I heard was a positive one. The students were well disciplined and obviously trained in the task that they were about to undertake. That is a credit to the instrumental music teacher as well as the choral music teacher. These devoted people give many additional hours of research in order to prepare music that will showcase the students.
That being said, let me remind you that music is something that you can participate in for your entire life. Not many of the students who take these courses go on to professional careers, but many of them go on to appreciate music in their lives.
I treasure the experience that I had in school in the area of music. I was fortunate to participate in band for a while, but my main participation was the chorus. I still love to sing although I am afraid that I do not sing as well as I used to.
Chorus exposed us to different types of music that I would never have explored on my own. I learned all of the tunes from the musicals that were prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. Our directors helped us to produce music that we enjoyed.
I passed on my love of music to my children. Each of them took piano lessons as well as guitar lessons. They can play for their own entertainment.
I must confess that I played more than ever when it was just for my own pleasure. I also used my talents when our family sang in church. My husband would come home from the barn on Sunday afternoon, and we would head to the music room to sing as a family. It was not really practice. It was just fun. Sometimes the children would get out the guitars. We would sing for an hour or two.
One year we entertained musicians who were in town to sing at area churches. I brought home four boys for Sunday dinner. Two of them had stayed the night. When they saw how far out in the country they were they were surprised. I explained that the area they were in was a rural one with no major highways. The boys walked up in our pasture after lunch. They looked for the cows that called the pasture home for the summer. It was a treat for them to be in the country since they all came from city backgrounds. We all went into the music room for a sing-a-long before they left to join their group.
The fifth generation of our family is now involved in music. It is a wholesome activity that brings together people with like interests. First I wrote four generations, but then I remembered how my great-aunt played song after song while we all gathered around the upright in her living room to enjoy an evening of music. She also used her talents to play for the Sunday school children to sing.
I am sure if you ask most of the children the age of my children who attended the Akeley Church what they remember most about going to church, it would involve music. We were just a small country church, but we had an amazing youth choir. The children began singing together when they were somewhere between 10 or 12 and sang together until they graduated. The only reason I attempted presenting a Christmas musical was because I knew this large group of youth could carry the rest of the singers along. They all learned to read music so that we could sing harmony parts.
That musical, called "He Started the Whole World Singing," was one of the most enjoyable things we ever did. I was so proud of those kids. They sang their hearts out.
I guess my biggest message here is that music is fun and can be enjoyed forever. I know that music was my saving grace when I had to endure long tests for health reasons. In my mind I sang many of the old hymns as well as other songs I knew as the testing proceeded. The "singing" kept me calm and focused.
It matters not whether you live in town or in the country; music is a wonderful activity to become involved in. It is fun.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.