Monday, November 10, 2014

Music... it truly is in my blood...

Yesterday, right before Bill and I went shopping, I was messing around on the Internet and started finding information about my family.  If you've been reading my blog, you know that my dad died over the summer.  My dad was an enthusiastic singer and ofter sang solos in church or in other choral groups.  He did have a nice singing voice, though I was never really a fan of it.  Other people were, though, and he had his fill of performing at weddings and such.

My dad had eight brothers and sisters.  Of them, two are organists.  One plays organ in a band he's in (or was in, anyway).  The other is a church organist.  Several like to sing, though I'm not sure all are equally talented.  I have another uncle who plays trombone and has been known to jam with his brother.  In fact, I happen to have a videotape from 1987 that serves as proof of how talented they are.

All but one of my aunts and uncles had children.  Of them, I have a cousin who is a professional musician and plays bass guitar for a couple of popular bands in Virginia.  He also plays other instruments-- drums, piano, trombone, and I believe he even sings.  I have another cousin who writes and sings songs and plays acoustic guitar.  Several others enjoy singing and/or were in band at one point or another.

My mother started playing the organ professionally in the early 1950s and continued playing until just a few years ago.  She was 14 when she started and while it was never a full time career for her, it did provide a nice steady income.

I knew about all these people before I started digging yesterday, trying to pass some time.  As I dug, I ran across obituaries of some people who were my relatives.  I never really knew most of them; I mean, I met my great aunt Beulah a couple of times.  She was my grandfather's sister.  I never knew my grandfather (dad's dad), though.  He died when I was two.  His sister died in 2012.  And lo and behold, she was also an organist.  She was probably self-taught, as a lot of my relatives were.

I dabbled in music growing up.  I started with the piano at age 6, but I didn't get into it.  It required too much discipline and practice and I preferred to go outside and play.  So I gave up the piano and didn't do anything else musical until I was 10.  For some reason, I decided I wanted to try to play the drums.  I had to audition and passed with no problems, but I had trouble holding the sticks properly.  So I took up the clarinet, which I did only because my sister had been in band and had a clarinet I could use.

I played clarinet for a year, then gave it up...  I actually had no trouble playing it.  It was just a matter of not being interested in practicing and not really liking the music teacher.

When I was 18, I took a voice class for my college degree.  That's when I found my "instrument".  And I have been a singer ever since.  I have always realized that my family was full of natural musicians and for me, it was definitely true.  But I have to admit, looking through old death notices and entries on was very interesting for me, because I ended up learning more about people I am related to and never knew.

A non-sensical video I made for the song, "Smile"...

I forgot to add... I also tried guitar.  I wish I could play.  I did learn a few chords... but again, I need more discipline and patience.


  1. I'm glad you found singing. I know piano isn't for everyone, but i can't help wondering how many people who took piano lessons might have had success wirh a slightly different approach. i know it's not for everyone, but I still cannot help thinking more people would succeed if allowed to find their own best way of approaching the instrument.

    1. I was very good at picking out tunes on the piano and could even harmonize and transpose. Like my uncle who is an organist, I could play a bit by ear. But I never had the patience or discipline to work at the piano. I regret not learning how to play better, though. I would love to be able to play like my mom does. But then, she can't really sing.

      It occurs to me that my approach to playing the piano is not unlike my approach to solving word problems. I could figure out the right answer if I was allowed to do it my own way. But try to force technique on me and I end up getting lost.


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