By Gabrielle. Image by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.
I’m working on a companion piece to yesterday’s post about missions. But my emotions are still quite raw and I need to pause for a minute on it. So instead, today I have a different topic I want to talk about. It’s music. My big questions are: Do you read music? Can you sing parts (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)? Did you ever take music lessons? Do you play an instrument?
I guess I’m curious about how common it is. I grew up doing all of these things. I took piano lessons for many years. I sang alto in advanced choir in both middle and high school. I sang weekly at church — as a congregation and in small groups. And of course, there was the recorder in sixth grade. As a kid, none of this was unusual. It seemed like most people around me were having similar experiences.
As an adult, I can read music, but only sort-of. Meaning I can easily find the notes on the piano that are on the page of music, but I can’t sit down and sight read a new piece. It would take many, many hours of practice to play a new piece — not even a particularly difficult one. And I rarely play at all — maybe once a year I’ll sit at the piano and play something. Honestly, I don’t seem to miss it or crave it. I don’t think it was ever particularly important to me to be able to play piano. It was just something I was signed up for as a kid.
Singing is the same. I still sing with the congregation at church, but I have no desire to join the church choir. I’ll sing with the radio or if the kids turn on something while we do the dishes. But that’s about it. I don’t consider myself a voice performer in any way, and don’t value that for myself. And parts? I can only sing a harmony if I have learned and memorized it ahead of time. I definitely can’t pick out a harmony on my own, or in the middle of a song. In fact, I can’t sing a harmony by looking at notes on the page — I can play a middle C, but I can’t sing one unless I hear it played first. Does that make sense?
That said, I loved when my siblings would sit around with guitars, or whatever instruments we had on hand, and have a jam session. I love when my kids do the same thing. And I love listening to music. I feel like I value music very much, even if I don’t care to be the one who performs it.
In contrast to me, there’s Ben Blair. He took far fewer lessons than I did, but enjoys singing and playing music (guitar, mandolin, piano, and everything else we have in the house) far more than I do.
What about you? What sort of role did music play a role in your childhood? And what role does it play now as an adult? For those of you who like to perform (either sing or play), do you have opportunities to do so? Did you ever get the chance to learn how to read music? And did you have formal lessons, or are you someone who is naturally musical and can play by ear, or sing a harmony the first time you hear a song?
P.S. — As a parent, I for sure value music for my kids. Each one of them has lots of experience with music lessons and performing with bands and choirs and during recitals. I know music helps with brain development, and I love the skills they learn from lessons — things like how to perform, how to do your part within a group, how to be disciplined and practice. But sometimes I lose sight of what the goal is. Or wonder if there’s a goal at all. How long should they take lessons? And what skill level should we be aiming for? Is the idea a music profession of some sort? Or just the ability to engage in and enjoy music throughout their life? I have no idea. Hah!