October 28, 2009

Oompah, Oompah, Oom pah pah....

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is “Musical Instruments!”

Do you play a musical instrument or did one of your family members? What instrument did you or they play?


This Carnival seemed intriguing. I started thinking about my ancestors and realized I had no idea if any of them played a musical instrument! My father played harmonica, and I used to love sitting and listening to him. But did his parents or grandparents play anything? His grandfather whittled a wistle from a piece of wood and that whistle was passed on down in the family.

I figure that someone somwhere way back did play because I could hardly wait to get into High School so I could take Music and play in the High School Band. I'd been desperate for piano lessons since I was very little and a friend's mother taught me a few simple songs one week when I stayed at their home for a summer holiday. What a joy that was to me! But I never got to take those lessons as we were very poor and there simply was not any extra money for such things.

In High School I took French Horn. I wanted to play drums but that was only for the boys, so I opted for that shiny beautiful brass instrument. I have to admit I was somewhat disapponted as all the French Horns got to play was the alternate beat. Oomp. Pause. Oomp. Pause... and so on.

But I played for 6 years and was in the band. We travelled all over, won some competitions too. I can still remember the notes for some of the songs. In my last year, we made a record - an L.P. 33RPM. Wow, talk about dating myself! I still have the record!

I took guitar lessons - classical as well as folk, when I was in my late 20s. I didn't want to play classical but my guitar teacher encouraged me to do both and once I started, I loved it! I eventually dropped folk and stuck with classical. I was never much good but I sure loved playing. That stopped though as my arthritis worsened, it was too difficult to move my fingers fast enough or far enough to sound decent.

When I was in my 30s I decided I'd try the recorder, so I taught myself to play. We've all heard the screeching sound of a woodwind badly played by children, but if a recorder is played well it is quite pretty. Recorders were popular in medieval times - perhaps one of my English ancestors played one! I wanted to play duets so I learned the alto recorder too, then taught my husband to play the soprano recorder (usually what we hear if only one is being played). We made some great music together!

I never did get to learn piano but music has been a pretty part of my life. No one else in my family plays or is interested in playing any kind of musical instrument so I have to believe that one or more of my ancestors did play an instrument. I just wonder who it was and what they played. I have a vague memory of my father playing the spoons and I like to imagine my Irish McGinnis ancestors sitting around playing the spoons or a fiddle, neither of which I was able to master!

I think musical interest and talent is genetic to some degree, as my son is a very talented guitar player. He started lessons at age 13 (classical and instrumental) and at the age of 15 he was hired by a local restaurant to play Classical guitar for their customers once a week. He began composing classical music and bought his own recording equipment to record his songs. My cousin is also a very talented guitar player and singer whose band is doing well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talented at all - but I do love making music. My son and cousin however must have some genetic musical DNA from a distant musically talented ancestor.

1 comment:

Jasia said...

I really had to grin at your mention of an LP, 33 rpm record... oh my gosh what memories I have of those slick black discs! LOL!

I know what you mean about the idea that there must be something in the genes that makes some folks musically talented while others are not. I, unfortunately, am in the "not" category. My daughter, however, could have make a career for herself in music (violin or drums... they aren't just for boys anymore ;-) . I am constantly amazed when I hear her play and I wonder where the heck she got that ability from!

Thanks for participating in the COG!