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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Music: to play or not to play - and where, when, how?

Music, music, music. It's everywhere.

Instead of the traditional "ding-a-ling," our phones (cells and land lines) use tunes instead of rings (though they are still called "ring tones").

A movie or television show uses music to tell us what emotions we are supposed to be feeling. This, by the way, is as old as the cinema . . . during the days of the silent movies, it was the music - live, by an organist in the theater - that communicated the message . . . somehow, even though the movies became "talkies," the music was not lost . . . in fact, it was incorporated into the program . . . think of how many out of work theater organists were walking the streets when that happened! If you are interested in listening to this almost forgotten medium, check the link for Theatre Organ CDs. And there are many who work to keep us from losing that early form of entertainment. We get a slight feel for this when we go to a baseball game at a park where there is a resident organist whose playing gives emphasis to whatever is happening on the field (or in the stands). Wikipedia provides an interesting history on this phenomenon, not only in baseball, but for other sports as well.

And we carry the music with us . . . it used to be on portable tape players, then portable CD players, now it's on portable MP3 players. Butch & I just finished converting all our CDs (that's between 600 and 700 CDs) to MP3s . . . I have a wonderful set of CD changers that is hooked up to our full-house stereo system. It's all gathering dust while Butch & I listen to our personal MP3s on our respective computers: we aren't even listening to music together anymore (unless the phone rings, of course!). What would our ancestors say about this? (I know, "what does M-P-3 mean?" . . . I have no idea!)

Of course, we still find live music in churches . . . at least we do in our church. And we all sing together. That is a comfort to me. In a time when music is so individualized, it's nice that one place still clings to the tradition of everyone singing together, sharing emotions and beliefs through music.

I have a friend who told me recently that she doesn't like music. I'll admit, I was speechless (yup, me, speechless!). How could anyone not like music? (I could understand not liking certain types of music, but all music? Unthinkable!) Turns out she is tone deaf; I don't mean that as an insult: some people honestly cannot tell one tone from another or one note from another and, for her, music sounds like a cacophony of disjointed sounds and actually puts her in a state of anxiety. Learning that detail about her has given me a new perspective on music and how/why people view music differently. I am eternally grateful that I do not have that problem: it sounds horrible to be subjected to such discomfort whenever dining at a restaurant, going to see a parade or baseball game, sitting through a church service, or getting into an elevator. If it creates the kind of discomfort I feel when someone scrapes fingernails across a window screen, I have a huge amount of compassion for the dear lady.

I am not going to stop making music, in deference to those who have similar afflictions, but I will not take it personally when someone elects to pass on one of my music programs or purchasing one of my CDs. And I will not assume that everyone wants to (or even should) "Sing Along!" However, now I wonder if any of my descendants experienced a similar condition. (I know my mother had a little trouble "carrying a tune," but she loved music and sang along anyway, in spite of my dad's repetitious, "Virginia, Please!") Some things, I guess, we never will know. But if you have no indications of an ancestor having musical instruments, it may just be because that person was uninterested in or even negatively affected by music.

Just some thoughts for a mid-February Wednesday. Now I need to practice some music for the St. George Banquet at the Family History Expo the end of this month!

1 comment:

  1. Jean, you know how much we love music! Grandma Gunder used to tell me that she never did know where I got my musical talent because neither of my parents could carry a note! (She would have been surprised at how far dad has progressed!)


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