About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Family Music at the Family History Expo in Utah

What did your ancestors do with music? Did they play instruments? Did they sing? Did they attend local concerts, such as the local band in the park? Maybe one of your ancestors taught other people how to play an instrument?

My granduncle, C. Harrison Hollander, played the piano-forte (piano) and absolutely loved music. He composed a few pieces and became the manager for an opera singer, Charlotte Peege, whom he later married. They lived in New York and Boston, where Charlotte could continue her career and where Harrison worked as a music critic, among other music-related jobs. Eventually they retired to Winter Park, Florida where they designed their own home, creating a huge living room with, as the focal point, a resident grand piano. They would host music gatherings and friends would fill the home as audience to Harrison on the piano and Charlotte "on" the voice.

I wonder if some of that behavior of having music in the home filtered down to me. Our house parties almost always include a number of musicians - playing guitars, banjos, autoharps, mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, etc. - taking turns playing solo pieces or leading the whole group in singalongs. We can't imagine any other way of entertaining (and our neighbors frequently come by for a free concert).

If you would like to see a sample of this sort of activity, come to Sandy, Utah the last weekend of August. Butch & I will have a booth in the exhibit hall (#621 - way off in the corner where we can make noise & not disturb others) where we will have short demonstrations of the music of our ancestors. Also, on Sat. at 2:30, we will be doing an hour program on the music of the Mormon Pioneers called "To Zion in Song" (I'll write more about that next week).

But there is a lot of great stuff planned for the Family History Expo in Sandy, Utah ... check it out at:

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