Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Musical Childhood


The following question was posed as a topic for a recent online chat.

This week we are asking you to share your own musical experiences at ages 5, 7, 11 and 14

Then we want to reflect on how this has shaped you as a music educator or if you aren't one, how it's had an impact on you since.


What follows are my responses.

Age 5
Music experience thus far in my short life has been primarily singing with my parents and family. Singing is an important thing to my family. My daddy is always singing something. My momma sings children's songs and Bible school songs with me and my brothers and sister. She can also be found playing and singing along with folk songs on the chord organ.  Interestingly enough, by this age I have already participated in my first singing school at the church where my daddy preaches.  I have been introduced to music notation, shaped notes, and how to song lead (conduct).

Age 7
By this time I have been continuing what I did at age 5. I can add having music in school (though I don't remember my first music teacher's name) and participating in school programs. I don't have a lot of memories of music at this time, but I do recall singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" at the Christmas program each year.

Age 11
A LOT has changed since age 7. My family has moved to a new town. Now I have music each week. A music teacher comes to our classroom to teach us. She often pushes a big piano into the room for music class. I remember thinking she must be strong! I also like when she bring a cart filled with xylophones. We sing a song called "Shenandoah" and my friend and I laugh when we sing the last word "misery" knowing it is really "Missouri."

In 5th grade my music teacher has an afterschool choir. We sing funny things like "Mah-may-me-moh-moo." It makes me laugh. I think we all sound like a bunch of monkeys!  We also learned a funny song called "High Hopes." That silly ol' ant! [I still have the song sheet we used.]

A man, called a band director comes to our class. He has us learn to play something called a flutophone. We learned to play a lot of songs, but my favorite is "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." I love that song!

Then this band director man talks to us about being in band. My older sister and brother are in band so, of course, I will be in band. I begin playing a trombone.  I don't think I knew what a trombone was until I learned about it from the band director man.  I tried real hard to blow into it and learned to hold a note for 4 beats while my foot went up and down, up and down.

In 6th grade I am in band, choir, and music class.

I am not so very good in band at the beginning of the year. I am 2nd chair from the END out of about 16 or 17 trombone players. At some point during the year I switch to tuba. Oom-pa-pa! It is a HUGE instrument made out of brass. I can barely hold it. It's a good thing my daddy has a station wagon otherwise I'd never get that thing home to practice it!  I'm not sure, but at some point during the year I switch back to trombone. I'm not really sure how that came about.  All I know is that whereas at the beginning of the year I was so bad, by the end of the year I am FIRST chair!!! WOW!  Somehow I got better.  Maybe there is something to this practicing thing.  I remember playing some piece called "Soul-Mobile."  Funny name, but we rocked!

I was honored at the end of my 6th grade year to receive an award for "Most Improved." I certainly did not expect that. I was so surprised when my name was called.

I know I sang in choir this year, but I can't remember much about it.

I do remember music class. My music teacher had us work out of packets. We learned music notes and a lot of other stuff. [Yes, after 40 years, I still have that packet.]

Age 14

Once again these past few years in junior high I have been in band, choir, and music class.

In band I sit 2nd chair my 7th grade year (2nd to an 8th grade boy). By 8th grade I am first chair again. A girl - 1st chair trombone! Our band director makes us do these silly breath impulse rhythm things EVERY day in rehearsal. It is SOOOO tiring. Then he makes us play a scale. I FINALLY learn what those little things at the beginning of each line of music are: key signatures! They tell me when to play Eb and Ab. Oh yes and a # too. I've learned those little things are important.  My band director tells us we give him an Exedrin headache and tells the drummers to stop being Russians! At first I don't understand this, but then I get it - he's making jokes!  Later I learn it's because we were trying his patience and the drummers were speeding up.

In choir we sing songs that includes the boys. So we sing 3-part songs. That's kind of hard so we work really hard at it. I sing alto! I find I can sing as low as a lot of the boys, but I don't sing their part.

In music class I remember working out of packets. What is it with these packets? And I remember learning to play the guitar. I learn to strum "Zum Gali Gali." I am a rock star on my guitar! No, not really, but I pretend I am.

It is during this time I get my first experiences performing at solo & ensemble contest and at organizational contest. I also get my first medals. I started playing a trombone duet with a boy. :)

One thing I will not miss in about junior high music classes is having to climb up 3 floors of stairs twice and sometimes three times a day!

During the summers I go to a music camp in Iowa. While there I play in a band, sing in a choir, and have classes in theory and conducting. I won a scholarship to get to go to camp. I am so proud. I am going to work hard and learn a lot!

By the time I actually turn 14 I am in my first year of high school. I am going to have so many musical opportunities!  I get to march in a squad of 4 trombones in marching band. We get to march at football games and parades. I am singing in the freshman choir. Once again I am singing alto. We have to sight sing after our warm ups. I'm pretty good at this, but others don't like it. I start taking private lessons in trombone and voice during this year.



My music education during the years described above were VERY influential in my becoming a music teacher.

Every music teacher from age 7 on has had a huge impact on me as a musician and on me as a teacher. Sometimes I do something in class and realize that "Mr. B. or Mr. K. or Mr. M or Mr. R. or Miss W. or Miss H." had done that too. And I just smile.

I learned that to be successful I have to work hard. I have to practice. And practice.

I learned how to read rhythms VERY well thanks to those breath impulse rhythm exercises.

I have to have an eye for detail - every element of the music being played or performed. 

I have learned to listen to myself and to others. 

I have learned to watch the conductor.

I have learned to work well with others. 

I have learned that an entire band or choir can all breathe together, pause, then play or sing beautifully together.

I have learned....oh so very much that doesn't have anything to do with music too!

I can never really thank those who shaped my musical childhood and influenced my musical career for all that they have done for me.

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