I grew up with music always playing in our home. We had a trusty old record player with two brown speakers in our dining room/family room. The open part of our pine hutch was filled with the record player and tuner and when we got old enough we would clamber on top of the buffet and switch the records. Inevitably we would scratch the record or break a needle, but we usually had spares. We didn’t have a lot of records but we had a variety from Handel’s water music to German folk music (with accordions!) to Tennessee Ernie Ford. At 5:00 the local classical radio station had a half an hour program called “Stories and Music for Children”. We would lay down by the speaker enthralled with music and classic tales while Mom could cook dinner in peace.
Fast forward to the 90’s with CD’s, and our music selection increased as well as the wattage of our speakers. Music continued to drown out the noise of large family living. As a result, we sang, danced, yodeled and laughed our way through dishes. Music was the balm that soothed hurt feelings and calmed hot heads. Music signaled it was Sunday morning, with hymns pouring out of the living room. The three tenors taught us all the famous arias. Before we ever joined the choir to sing Handel’s Messiah, we knew all the words. We knew exactly how the soprano was to sing her solo and were slightly shocked when she deviated from what we knew was the right way to sing “Come unto Him”.
I once read of a perfect vacation (in my mind, that is) . Some travel writer/music lover spent a week in Wales going from village to village attending male choir rehearsals. The idea of spring in the English countryside, and hearing so many talented choirs captured my imagination. I have always had a soft spot for great male choirs and it seems the Welsh have a great musical tradition in that regard.
Fast forward to today… and I find I have forgotten my love of music. I rarely have music playing and consequently my kids have no idea of the musical wealth available to them. If I want them to love what I loved, if I want them to recognize the banal offerings in our society for what they are, they need to know the alternatives. I don’t know where the decrease in music started. I think I played music a lot more when we were first married. We had amassed hundred of CD’s between us both. We never had fancy audio equipment, but in a little house, who needed serious volume? Several years ago we switched to a Sonos system. I downloaded most of our CD’s onto our computer, and now with a swipe of the ipad, I can access all of the music and play it on a central speaker. But I don’t… Maybe having your kids take the ipad and now you are impotent to change the volume when the phone rings has something to do with it. Maybe my gradual hearing loss and subsequent volume issues, discouraged me. Maybe central- room – music playing doesn’t mesh well with our modern life style of ipad and computer use. How can you watch your youtube clip on some cool minecraft build when your mom is blasting something annoying! Whatever the case, I want to change this. Having hearing aids means I can play music at a reasonable level, although it does distort music somewhat for me. I want my kids to love music and see it as the backdrop to their childhood. I want them to develop an appetite for music beyond what’s easy and catchy. Music can stir up emotion and calm nerves. Music can increase our appetite for spiritual things and build up our faith. Why neglect this great gift God has given us?
Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”