My dear husband Richard has been known to come home with some treasures from auctions. Sometimes I trust there is a treasure in there. Other times, I just dive right in.
In the last few months, he went to 2 sales and came home with 2 boxes of music for piano. One of those boxes cost $2. I am not sure what the other one cost. Those most have been a part of life long treasures of the former owners who surely loved music with a passion.
One box (mostly Etude magazine from the 1920-40s) seems more on the classical order with appeal to a range of skills from novice to professional. I have not dipped into this box much but my draw is that it connects me with the early childhood of my Mother and her Mother (who was trained as a classical musician in the early 1900s). It gives me an idea of the "culture of music" present in that time. The other box (mostly the magazine Sheet Music from the 1970-90s) includes popular music past and present. The latter box cost $2. Both include stories and lessons behind the music, tidbits of which will surely help me over time.
I have to say I am positively thrilled. I have gone through the Sheet Music box and pulled out songs which are vibrantly, tenderly, and sometimes painfully etched into memories of my past. Just thinking of those songs and hearing them takes me back to another place and time. The memories just spill over.
So it is to the piano I have gone. I just can hardly stop playing. And yes, my skill level is needing some work but I peck and I plunk and sometimes something reminiscent of something quite beautiful comes out. Other times, not. Oh, yes, even for the best of my playing, the timing is off, I pause awkwardly at new times, and I am missing some keys. I make no apologies. I played piano from the time when I was 6 until I retired at 12. Mother just got tired of the tug of war that she and I would play to get me to practice. I did not return to piano until about 18 months ago (which was 50 years later). I have to say that with the addition of these 2 boxes of treasures, I am having a ball.
I think my family is getting a chuckle out of me. And furthermore, the 3 of us are playing our own game of "Name That Tune" and that is just fun. Sometimes the songs are recognizable and sometimes not. But I am making progress.
As I look at these magazines, I can sense how important music was in the lives of many people. Farmhouses had pianos or other musical instruments. Many played and sang. Whole families would get involved. Traditions of music were very important.
Over time, we have had some modern inventions that were supposed to make things better and in their own ways, I am sure they have. Music however has become something that you listen to someone else play and sing. That "other" is a pro and the common folk get left far far behind. Kids are fed diets of television and electronics. Their own skill in such things is not developed. I think that is really sad and perhaps a serious injustice of sorts.
These are just some of the songs that I played tonight: "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Leigh Harline, Ned Washington, 1940), "Star Wars" (John Williams, 1977), "True Love" (Cole Porter, 1955), "Time in a Bottle" (Jim Croce, 1971), "You'll Never Walk Alone" (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, 1945), "Three Coins in the Fountain" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne, 1954), "Till There Was You" (Meredith Willson, 1950), "This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie, 1956), "Moon River" (Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini, 1961).
While I have not been doing this very long, this has added a very rich and untapped dimension to our lives here on the Farm. I don't know how far I will go with this, but I do know it will help me with my skill level and my interest in the piano. Those little songs are "teasers" for me practicing and that is cool.
I think about the individuals who collected this music for themselves and now for me. It had to be sad for them to recognize that no one would want these things. Well, someone did and does. And I am grateful beyond words for their collections and their interest.
And what shall I play tomorrow?