I went on a musical journey to the past Thursday night. 50 years into the past, to be exact.
My granddaughter Ivy had a violin concert at her elementary school. She attends Peeler Open School, a magnet school for the performing arts, where the kids study dance, art, and their choice of piano or violin as well as the usual academic fare.
Approximately three dozen second and third graders treated us to renditions of Go Tell Aunt Rhodey, Train is A’coming, and several other songs. But the one that took me straight into the past is a song that I learned those 50 long years ago. It’s called Lightly Row.
As soon as they started playing, I was transported to my childhood bedroom in a house in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania. I could see the bright room and the window that looked toward my best friend Nancy’s house. The brand new foldable music stand my parents had bought me was clear as day, and I could even see the book open on the stand. If I squint just right, I can even see the notes on the page.
Lightly Row was one of the first songs in the book, one of the very first songs I ever played, and it brought me the joy of knowing I could make music. I had always loved music and loved to sing, and I still do.
But this was different. It was a whole body experience. Tucking the violin up under my chin, settling my left hand into playing position and readying the bow for that first downstroke was like getting ready to make magic.
I was never a great player (although I did audition and was accepted into County Orchestra one year in high school), and music was never going to be my career, but it was–and is– very satisfying to make music.
In college in 1972, I switched to guitar, (everybody played guitar in those rock ‘n roll years) which I played until carpal tunnel reared its ugly head. I really missed being able to make music. Two years ago, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I started playing dulcimer , and then very recently got a ukulele as well.
There’s just something about making music, no matter how inexpertly, that’s good for my soul.
I’m glad I started that musical journey so long ago, and happy to have taken that little trip to the past last week.
I hope Ivy enjoys her musical journey as well.