Music and I
Ever since I was a small child, I have loved music. The strong, steady beats, the
entrancing melodies, and the lyrics that vary between heart-warming and heart-wrenching
have always had an unexplainable affect on my life. Music seems to have the ability to
change certain aspects of my world. If I am in a foul mood, an angry girl band can make
my rotten attitude even more irresistibly awful. When I am happy, any sort of upbeat,
dance-to-me kind of music enhances my joy that much more. I love to study to classical
music, daydream to classical music, even sleep to classical music. Through my teen
years, I became a fan of the often melodramatic country music that is still preset on my
radio today. No matter what kind of music it is, when I turn it on, my mood morphs
easily into whatever kind of music I am listening to.
Music has absolutely been an enormous part of my life and who I am. However,
this is not to say that I have much musical talent. I did perform in the choir in elementary school, and I played the flute for four years through middle school, but one day I came to a simple decision. When it comes to music, I am a much better enjoyer of it than a producer of it. When I am alone in the car, my sing-along-to-whatever-is-on-the-radio voice is fab-u-lous. However, as soon as any else climbs into the car with me my talent suddenly dwindles. My larynx doesn’t seem to appreciate an audience when it is trying to perform. Thus, my musical enjoyment stems directly from listening.
My love for music has existed for as long as I can remember. When I was a child,
my mom and I had a special song that she would sing to me if I was sick, sad, or
sometimes just as a treat before bed. To this day, “You are My Sunshine” has the power
to make me teary-eyed. Because it is not a song that is often played on the radio, I hardly ever hear it anymore. However, whenever someone is whistling it as they walk by or I hear it on a movie (who doesn’t love Beaches?), my heart soars and a smile creeps across my face as my eyes begin to swell. The song simply has the ability to bring back a
million happy memories from my childhood within its first few notes.
When my older sister got married, I wanted to do something special to remind her
of our childhood and to take her mind off of the wedding stress as we were getting ready
the day of the wedding. I thought back to all of the songs we loved when we were little,
many of which were sung by the infamous one-hit-wonders of the eighties. I think each
generation has songs that are popular to them and that they will never forget the lyrics to.
However, if you mentioned the artists that sang them or the names of other songs they
sang, no one would have a clue what you were saying. Still, the songs are precious to the
people that grew up with them. When my sister and I listened to the CD I made for her in
the limousine on the way to the ceremony, we were both brought right back to the days
when we were growing up.
Wedding seem to provide a perfect atmosphere for the sentimental music that is
sometimes otherwise condemned as “cheesy.”My sister, as the Matron of Honor at my
wedding, threw in two wonderful surprises as she was giving her toast. The first surprise
was that my younger brother helped her, and the second surprise came just as they began
to speak. Suddenly, music swelled behind their voices. As a private sibling joke, my
brother and sister and I have always teasingly sang “You are the Wind Beneath my
Wings” to each. The music that began just as they did was that very song. Incredibly
enough, this special effect that was meant as a joke made me burst into tears. I can’t
explain why, because although they weren’t tears of joy, I certainly wasn’t sad. Maybe
my tears were that of appreciation for my siblings’ support. Whatever the reason, my
tears triggered my younger brother’s emotions, and then he and my sister both shed a few
tears as they finished their toast. The song that was such a joke to all of us had somehow become presious and sacred at the same time.
Perhaps a part of the reason that I love music so much is due to the fact that I also
love to dance. To me, you just can’t have one without the other. Most people would
agree that unless you have an incredible internal beat; it is pretty tough to dance without music. While I agree, I also find it unbelievably tough to hear music without dancing.
Anything that has a beat is enough to make my feet want to move, my hips want to sway,
and hands to flail about. What’s funny is that while I would never say I have two left
feet, I certainly have no hope of impressing anyone with my dancing abilities.
Nevertheless, as the nerdy vice-principle from Greasesaid, “When I hear music I just
can’t make my feet behave!”
Looking back at my life, I think part of the reason I am so prone to dancing when
I hear a good beat stems back to my childhood. In elementary school, music was one of
my favorite subjects. There was one activity that I was always sure I was better at doing
than anyone else in my class. My teacher would bring out a big bass drum and pound out
a slow, steady beat on it. As a class, our job was to find the beat as quickly as we could, then march or stomp around the room to the beat. Once my teacher was confident that we had all found the beat, she would move on to another one. Each beat she created
would be a little more complex and a little bit faster than the one before it. As she
noticed which students had caught on to the beat and were stomp/marching to it correctly,
she would call out their name so the class could watch them if they were struggling. I
was always so proud to hear my name shouted out.
In my mind, there is music everywhere. I’m not one of those people who think
they hear a melody in the falling snow flakes, but I hear a definite rhythm even now as I
type on the keyboard to my computer. I consider iambic pentameter to be one of the
most beautiful rhythm’s created, and I give Shakespeare an enormous amount of credit to
be able to write in it for as many stanzas as he did. Anyone who has read “The Midnight
Ride of Paul Revere” knows what I am talking about when I say that poets can add a
consistent rhythm to their pieces to make them that much more effective.
Classical music is also something that I love to listen to. The melodies, the
crescendos and decrescendos, the changes in tempo and the different dynamics of the
music are enough to touch anyone’s heart. I used to love to fall asleep listening to
classical music, but once I noticed that I had began listening to the music instead of
falling asleep I had to turn it into a strictly daytime activity. I found I would lie awake with my eyes closed, picturing all sorts of things. I would imagine anything from
animals running to rivers flowing to couples dancing. Although I am sure this was quite
good for my imagination, it certainly wasn’t helping me the next day when I had to get up
Once I was able to get past the stereotypes I had about country music, I found that
I really like the sound of it as well. Of course, there is probably no better music to listen to when your life is running a little less that smoothly. No matter what sort of tragedy has occurred in my life, there is a country singer out there somewhere that has been though the same thing and has written a song about it. Aside from the sad country songs, some of the most beautiful love ballads I have ever heard have come across my speakers with a bit of twang and a Texas accent.
This semester I am taking a class on integrating music into the elementary school
classroom. I have seen some amazing techniques from my instructor, but the most
powerful demonstration I have seen was presented by one of my classmates for our final
projects. She read a book to the class while music played in the background. She read a
children’s book about pirates called Tough Boris that is not going to be winning a
Newberry or Caldecott Award anytime soon. However, Fanfare for the Common Man
played as she read it, timed just right, gave me goose bumps. Each time she finished a
line, the music seemed to respond to what she had said. For example, as she read the line
“All pirates are greedy,” the music in the background blared as though to signify the
horrific trait that greed really is. When she read the line “All pirates cry,” the music
suddenly became softer and let her audience know that pirates are people too and they
really do have feelings. The intensity of the music made an okay book seem unreal and
amazing. To prove her point about the effectiveness of music in life, she also brought up
the example of the significance of music in movies.
From the scary horror flicks of today to the older Alfred Hitchcock movies to
Gone with the Wind, music plays an immense role in the emotions felt while watching a
movie. Imagine the music that plays as the protagonist slowly creeps up the stairs toward
the monster hiding in the bedroom. The intensity and volume of the music let us know
that we are supposed to be afraid for this person and their safety. As soon as the tension is released through the actor’s escape or some other form of success, the music quiets, becomes more cheerful, or may even cease all together. A scary movie just wouldn’t be the same if it were watched without the music, nor would a great romance be so heart-wrenching if the music didn’t swell in the background as the lovers were reunited.
Realities such as this make me sure that I am not the only person who feels the
effects of music on them in their everyday lives. In fact, I have only met one or two
people in my life who don’t like to listen to music while they drive. No one I know has
ever told me that they don’t like music. I would venture to say that enjoying music is
probably innate in us as human beings. Although each person has a distinctly unique
taste of music, people still like to listen to it and enjoy it. My own personal experiences and attitudes to music have stemmed from my own life and relationships.
My new husband and I just finished putting up our very first Christmas tree
together. I was pleasantly amazed when he flipped on the radio to Christmas tunes and
began singing along to them with me. These holiday songs are only another example to
me of how powerful music is. As soon as we starting singing while we were putting up
ornaments on the tree, our moods were lifted easily from the stress of looming finals and
another Christmas working in retail. Although this is the first year I won’t be spending
Christmas at home, I know that all I will have to do is listen to the old familiar notes of “Holy Jolly Christmas” to feel right at home.