Humans create to adorn themselves, to express themselves, to release emotion, and to elevate their senses. Of course, there are other reasons humans create. I think of the arts, especially music, for these thoughts today.
I live in a town where the municipal band has performed, continuously, since 1874. Since the 1930s, this municipal band performs under a WPA (Works Progress Administration) band shell in a town square surrounded by WPA brick streets. Though evenings in Kansas tend not to cool off, it’s a lovely time to hear people from the community performing new and old compositions. All which culminate with a “grand march” where people in the audience, mostly children, march waving small flags.
Last night, which was the last for the season, which begins the first Friday in June, there was the addition of a community choir. I was excited to be in that choir. My love of performing in a choir goes back to four years of high school choir under the direction of my mentor and best teacher, ever, Mr. D. W. Bauguess. I’m unsure about using people’s whole names in this venue. Anyway, our choir, last night, sang three songs: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (a WWII favorite performed by the Andrews Sisters), Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (A Duke Ellington gem), and a Porgy & Bess medley (the “folk opera” by the beloved George Gershwin). They are wonderful old songs, and it was with great delight that we presented them, complete with a first soprano solo by a local, professional, coloratura soprano.
This makes me think of the joys of music. We know that music helps us develop our brains, when classical music is played for infants. We know that singing releases endorphins, which make us happy. We know that music helps us to use that part of the brain that supports mathematics. And, of course, we know that music uses that part of the brain that supports creativity. Every culture has its music. Most humans respond to music.
I’m in a little folk music band. Our band consists of four people: three females and one male. Our instruments include guitar, bass, ukuleles, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and the occasional percussion instruments. My favorite saying:”We only play the best nursing homes in town.” We’re not a great band, but we make up for it in enthusiasm! When we sing at the retirement homes or at the senior center, our music brings joy to the people, and we stay to visit when the musical hour has come to its end. I’ve been trying to get my band, who doesn’t like to practice much, to set up on the street downtown and play music. You know: like buskers!
Do you have music in your head? Do you walk around with a song repeating itself? I come by my constant flow of music in my head honestly. I remember my maternal grandmother whistled while she was in the kitchen cooking and doing laundry. She whistled all the time. My brother, Lee, hums, and so do I. We, including our nephew Dylan, like to hum while we eat! It likely annoys those around us, but what do you do? It’s such a joy to hear our granddaughter and one of our grandsons singing quietly to themselves while they do tasks.
Music is joy, and I find a way to incorporate it into my day in one form or another; whether I’m listening to it or performing it. What’s your musical “power”?
Thank you for reading.