The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 18 - 12/28/00
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I have heard it said that music is food for the soul and I truly believe that statement. Having considered myself an amateur musician since I started singing in the Vacation Bible School chorus in Harrison, Nebraska while visiting my cousins as a kid, music has been feeding me well for a long time.
The tradition of music in our lives is one that is introduced and cultivated early on if it has become a real passion for us. If our parents expose us to a variety of instrumental and vocal styles when we are toddlers, it all registers in our brains as something fun and good. Studies show that children who study music and play or sing as a part of their regular studies do much, much better in school than their non-musical peers and tend to be more emotionally and socially well-adjusted. Though there are exceptions to every study, I feel that an abundance of music in our lives can only be good for us.
The recent instrumental concert performed by all of the Big Piney schools was a wonderful treat for me during this hectic holiday season. With the opening numbers played by the high school Jazz Band, I was returned to my own high school days on the stage, trombone in hand and hitting the really high notes. When the beginner fifth grade band took the stage, my memories of pride of accomplishment in getting through those little songs for the first time came running back. I realized how far I had really gone with my interactive involvement in music and how my passion was finally fueled by an instructor who helped me select the right instrument for not only the shape of my mouth, but my personality.
All of the bands that evening were great; not just good but really exceptional. It is obvious that the kids all have an appreciation of music and much of the credit for that has to go to Anne Mitchell, instrumental music instructor for the schools. Her enthusiasm, which she is sharing with the kids, comes out in the numbers they perform.
I was an athlete in school, though I was only mediocre at best, but I loved basketball and also played volleyball and went out for track. Sports were good for me, but music was the best. I had to work hard at it and was never the best instrumentalist or had the most beautiful voice. But, I was really, really good and that pursuit to be the best was what kept me at it until I finally made Wyoming All-State Honor Band my senior year. That honor and our Jazz Band getting an A+ rating and winning the most competitive and prestigious competition in our region the same year are still counted as in the top ten greatest accomplishments of my life. I was talking with a friend a few days before the concert and she too had been an Honor clarinet player with many fond memories of her musical career and I think we both realized how much we missed that feeling of being part of that organized instrumental experience. I also spoke to a fellow Community Choir member and we agreed that not having a Christmas cantata this year had left a hole in our holiday season, even though it was just not something anyone could have pulled together this year.
We do so much for our children and sometimes I think we put quantity over quality. Good music brings quality to our lives and we all need that. My praise and appreciation go out to all the young musicians in both band and choir and I hope you will stick with it all through school, if not longer. To the instructors I say excellent job, well done and keep challenging your students to do more and try more difficult pieces. They will rise to that challenge.
And, if there are any other adult closet instrumentalists out there, maybe we should start a support group. Bring your instruments and we will confess to each other how we pine for the sounds we once made. Perhaps we can figure out how to feed our souls again - adult community band, anyone?
P.S. To all the readers of my column and the feature stories I have written for the Journal, I want to sincerely thank you for your compliments and encouragement throughout the past year. It is a privilege for me to share my thoughts and to have been involved in doing the interviews and stories I have worked on. My family and I send out our sincere hope to all of you that your holidays and the New Year will bring contentment, good health and happiness. Merry Christmas!
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