Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sounds My Mother Taught Me

In keeping with the fearless female theme of the month I am departing from those blog prompts to do a different prompt for today. I will be doing my other addition for the 31 day challenge but I saw this on another genealogy blog and I just had participate. 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History do an amazing job of coming up with great things for you to add to your blog and this one really struck a chord.

Week 9: Sounds. Describe any sounds that take you back to your childhood. These could be familiar songs, jingles, children playing, or something entirely different.

When I think of my childhood and a sound that resonates through out the whole of it is music. Singing, records, choir practices, dancing around the room, but most importantly piano music. I don't think there was a day that went by that no one in my house played the piano and if there was then it was because we were at a piano lesson or my cousins and she was playing.

The legend goes that my grandmother always wanted to learn how to play but never found either the time or the money to take lessons. Like a lot of parents she then passed that desire on to her her children insisting that they all take piano lessons and like most children forced to do something they had no desire to do they balked. They cried, they refused to practice, they did everything short of throwing the piano down the stairs; all but my mother.

My mother found a joy in playing that I don't believe her siblings ever shared and as they quite one by one (there were only three of them so it was more like one after they other) she continued to play. She walked to lessons and studied multiple hours until she had honed her craft. I would love to tell you that she became a world renowned pianist but she kept it a little closer to home and to her heart and soul.

While she never made it to Carnage Hall she did make it to the piano stand at the church that she had grown up in and then to some of the other churches in the greater St. Louis area and finally to the Gospel Core Union of St. Louis which traveled around to multiple churches not just in Missouri but other states as well. I don't think I remember her traveling with them as a child but I do remember the name being used quite frequently throughout my childhood.

As I grew up my grandmothers dream was passed on to my generation through myself and my cousins. We all took lessons at the same piano school that my mother, aunt and uncle first attended and I believe we had the same teacher (at least he was old enough to have been the same). Both my aunt's and our house had pianos in it, ours being the same one my mother had used growing up, and there was music played regularly.

To this day I still have a piano and so does my cousin.
Mine isn't the one that my mother learned on but it is the one that she eventually had to buy when hers gave out and I still play whenever I want to fell close to her. I have never been as good as she was which I'm sure still bugs her after the seven years she spent pulling her hair and mine out to make me go to my lessons and learn at least one to songs. My aunt loves to make fun of me and my cousins saying that it's so sad the amount of time that they spent taking us to lessons and we can all only play one song which isn't completely true. It's more that we all have one signature song that we don't have to look up the music to play.

Music has always been part of my life and it always will be thanks to my mother. I might not have learned to play the piano to her level but I can still play. I can also play the clarinet, the drums and one song on the sax. I have taken ballet lessons, tap lessons, and jazz dance lessons. I have been in countless musicals and theatrical productions as well as stage managed a couple. I have joined numbers of choirs in almost every city I have lived in and even when I drive around town I am normally singing at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing.

The best part of this upbringing is that while most of my friends are set in one genre of music that they constantly listen to I have a broader range. I am not just a fan of the music of my generation but of the generations before me and singers and composers that most my age might not even know.

I was blessed to have such a powerful sound present in my life by such an amazingly talented woman. And although she never reached world wide fame that she possibly could have there aren't many places or churches I can go into in St. Louis where someone doesn't stop me and ask, "Are you Vee's daughter?" and I am proud to say, "Yes, I am."

2 Historic Comments:

Kristin said...

my mother played the piano too but my sister and i dropped out of lessons before we became very good. it also gave my mother a lot of pleasure.

Paula said...

What a wonderful sound to grow up to!!

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