Music is a very important part of my life. I like to think of myself as a musician. Not necessarily an outstanding musician, but a musician nevertheless. My earliest memory of music in my life is being a member of the “largest booster band in the country.” That designation was the invention of the director of said group, Aunt What-Ever-Her-Name-Was.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “Booster Band,” allow me to enlighten you. This band consisted of a group of kids ages 4 to 6, who played various musical instruments (mostly percussive) and sang cute little songs about God and Jesus. The band I was a member of was formed and nurtured in the First Baptist Church in Garrison, Texas, of which my father was Pastor.
Next on my musical journey was a music class in elementary school, where I learned to play the tonette, a small plastic version of a recorder. The natural progression from there was clarinet, and eventually bass clarinet, played in junior high and high school. From there came college, singing in the choir, and eventually becoming a high school choir director.
I have performed in several musical comedies, and have sung professionally, but never achieved real professional status as a singer. And now I am learning to play the banjo. My musical tastes are totally eclectic – from Gregorian Chant to Mozart to Bluegrass. I love them all.
When I drive in my truck, my music is always playing. When I am working in my shop, I have ear plugs connected to my i-pod. I cannot imagine my life without music. Some may say I play my music too loudly, but that’s how I like it. I like to become a part of the music. I want the music to engulf me. As Plato said, “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”
But enough about me. The thing that thrills me most about music is watching performers become a part of the music they are playing or singing. Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Barbara Streisand, Roy Clark, Andrea Bocelli are a few of those performers who live inside the music.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a Banjo Camp in Dahlonega, Georgia. Regina gave this opportunity to me for my birthday. (Yes, I am very blessed). The organizer of the camp, Geoff Howald, lives in Atlanta, but owns a small cabin outside of Dahlonega, in the foothills of the Appalachians. As you might imagine, the setting was beautiful, and the weather was even better.
There were five students and three instructors. At the end of each evening jam session, the instructors would treat us with an impromptu concert. Each of the instructors could play multiple instruments, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and dobro, which they have been playing for 40+ years.
As I sat in awe the last night, it dawned on me that as these musicians played, they were no longer in this realm. They had transcended into the music itself. As their fingers moved at unbelievable speed on the strings, they were totally unaware of the surroundings of reality. They were literally inside the music. It was a moving experience.