“Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!” (J.K. Rowling)
Sometimes a column pushes me to reflect on the week. One of the few good things about Facebook is reconnecting with people from the past. A classmate sent out a video of her brother, afflicted with Alzheimer’s. His wife was with him and he was singing to her a song from his youth. He was beaming. She was beaming as he touched on himself again and may recognize her for a moment. He would tell her this is the beginning of the song; this is the middle. Somehow many of the words were clear to him. It reminds me of being in memory care when otherwise silent residents can sing, with gusto, the first verse of Christmas carols.
The songs of our youth seem to have special holds on us. Memory is connected to emotional triggers, and youth is a wellspring of deep feeling. Repetition helps us remember, and some songs have been played endlessly. The same goes for church hymns, as people often prefer ones that they have heard many times and then get to complain that they have heard them too frequently or too infrequently.
The revolution in music streaming allows us to create our own virtual radio stations. The algorithms by groups such as Pandora amaze me with their success at finding music that suits one’s taste by measures such as piano or guitar based songs.
At Rotary we had a presentation by the conductor of the
Philharmonic orchestras. A poor kid, Robert Baker, stumbled into the oboe and
in remarkable happenstances worked with both Leonard Bernstein and Aaron
Copeland. Through a lifetime of contacts, he brings major pianists to St Louis for a series. Belleville
I prize this area’s musical offerings, often for free. For folks of my musical tastes, it is astounding that we can hear talented artists such as Rogers and Nienhaus, Pat Liston, and the Mondinband on a regular basis. Fast Eddies has music every single night. Grafton in the summer has competing sounds of music in venue after venue. Of course we have our own
groups, the offerings at Lewis and Clark, and the high schools and middle
schools. The work of ABOB parents to maintain a stellar music program is a
testament to community spirit. I think that Hair at Alton Little Theater
promises to be a big hit for them. I do wish we had a more centralized method
of the music opportunities week to week, instead of hunting them down bit by
I spent a good deal of money this spring going to veteran rock concerts. I admire that they have the knowledge and ego strength to hire skilled players that threaten to outshine them. For less money, I can go to the
symphony to hear world class artists, and even then they offer free
performances at times, such as the fall concert on Art Hill. St Louis
Music affects some of us in different ways. Some only want dance music. Others want only upbeat happy songs. For some of us, the blues or sad songs work to lift a downhearted spirit. Some people need music to get them through work.
What songs have stayed with you? Are performers on your bucket list? If you are a couple, what is “your song?” Do you resist even giving some musical formats a try?
“Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)