|Yes, Me Thinks I See Her Smiling|
Oh the allure and appeal of new sheet music. It seems as if I cannot have enough! Sure, I play by ear - and a lot, but I am seduced and enchanted by all of the possibilities - by the key signatures, time signatures and notation of music in print. By the words and phrasing. By the genius of the great composers of old. By the big bands of my grandparent's day. By the show tunes, early rock icons, pop singers and country music of my parent's time. By the nostalgia of the decades of music to which I have been exposed - as a child of the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's through the present - of every genre possible. By the challenge of reading and learning to play it myself. I count myself among the most fortunate of children having parents who loved music and having been born at just the right time to experience and appreciate it all, and even more so having a husband with a similar upbringing to encourage and enjoy it all with me. I want to learn to play it all.
Flashbacks of my mother singing along to the radio while we ran errands in her 1968 Mustang, or earlier memories of her face shining and beautiful, her long red ponytail swaying as she sang and busied herself around the house, rewind and play in my mind. Memories of a living room filled with the sounds of country western, crooners and popular music depending on my father's mood and what he was into at the time, take me back to the best of times. We danced, we sang, we laughed - dad who was always omnipresent and perpetually moody, was in a good mood whenever he played his music and sometimes he would joke and stomp around in his big work boots, making us all crack up - or even play Sousa early on a Saturday morning, to wake the entire family up. And when our parents went out for the evening, we boldly invaded their collection - so captivated were we. Without a doubt our parents knew, and never said a word about us touching the stereo and scratching the soundtrack to How the West Was Won.
My family still teases me to this day, about the soundtrack to Mozart's The Magic Flute from my own collection as a little girl - right next to those albums meant for the teeny bopper that I was - albums that were later replaced by Queen and Van Halen. My brother brought up my fascination with Mozart just the other day, on the eve of one of my choir performances of a Bach masterpiece - he asked if I was going to sing a solo and we laughed at my childish attempts to hit Mozart's high notes and in German too. Even funnier was his attempt to demonstrate my singing over the phone in his own falsetto voice. How little he realizes how that kind of exposure has helped me in composing my own music and in my current pursuit of my music degree after all these years. My ability to raise my hand when the professor asks if we have ever heard of Mario Lanza, The Student Prince, Rogers & Hammerstein, or Irving Berlin. Students my age complimenting me on such song choices as McCartney, Baez, Annie Lennox. The younger students presenting the director with a blank stare, while the elders nod wisely, until they are likewise consumed with the brilliance.
Whenever I order new music I justify that I need it for my band, for various musical projects, for choir, for voice class, and for jam sessions with my husband - much as most of my friends justify the need for a whole new Spring wardrobe. Sheet Music Plus, Amazon.com, MusicScore.com all call to me in the middle of the night, during those times when all is soft stillness, and my family is in dreamland, unaware that my insanity has arisen again. Consumed by my crazy obsession, I muffle my maniacal laugh, and fill my shopping cart until the actual cost, should I choose to click checkout would be in the hundreds. My index finger wavers over the enter key, but sanity generally returns and I prudently transfer most of my choices from my shopping cart to my wish list . . . staying within my budget - knowing that unless I quit my day job, I am never going to have enough time to learn them all and after all there are bills to pay. But my choices are still there on my wish list for that some day, and when the packages arrive my husband is right there, enthusiastically supporting my madness.
I ponder the difference between insanity and passion and often wonder if they are actually the same thing. Are all composers, performers and musicians slightly mad? Must one be obsessed in order to achieve greatness? All I know for sure is that this particular enchantment of mine makes me happy and spreads happiness to others . . .
Here's to you beloved friends an family. May you pursue your own passions as devotedly as I do. May you feel like I do as well, in seeking fulfillment of your dreams. May you have love, light and happiness always.