by Jay O'Toole
Music has shaped my life in so many ways from the crib, until today. Music is great!
|To share the MUSIC of my life is like climbing Mount Everest or plumbing the Marianas Trench.
What is life without music?
For me there is none!
Music is my life's blood.
If you were to ask to step into my heart, then it would be a room filled with MUSIC.
The MUSIC of my life began before I was conceived. When my Dad was serving his country during the days following World War II, he walked into a movie theater to watch Walt Disney's musical extravaganza, Fantasia, and he was hooked on classical music.
When I was born in August of 1960, Dad was playing classical music for me in the crib.
I heard music as I crawled.
I heard music as I took my first steps.
I heard music before school and after school. Often I heard music during school.
I started "banging on the piano," when I was three or four years old. Why? Dad had taken a few piano lessons in seminary. He often played the half a dozen or so hymns he had memorized in those lessons. I wanted to play like he did. Mom had purchased the piano, while she was still a single school teacher in her twenties. Mom didn't play the piano much because as she would often repeat, "All I know how to play is the shape notes." Therefore, Dad brought the piano to life, and I fell in love with the piano.
Taking piano lessons for nine years as we travelled from town to town and from church to church in the states of Texas to Georgia, USA, I gained proficiency and learned to perform a little bit in recitals. However, I was still very timid, playing mostly for myself.
At the end of my high school years I was asked to play the piano for the Vacation Bible School at my Dad's church one week in 1976 or 1977 as I recall. Following that week, I began to play the piano regularly on Sunday nights during the worship service. All was good until the song leader, who never gave me advance notice of the song selections, called out a hymn number that required me to play in four or five sharps or flats. That's when I learned that the piano could be played "in the cracks." However, this was always unintentional, you understand. ;)
Throughout my adult years, so far, I have accompanied multiple churches and soloists. Often I have played for the peace and solitude of enjoying good music. In this presentation of my life's favorite MUSIC, the reader will quickly learn that piano music plays heavily in the loves of my life. These great pianists have the abilities to which my heart longs to achieve. I listen to and watch their performances, thinking, "One day I shall become a piano player, too!"
It's true the people, who have watched me play the piano, have given me the acclaim of being a great piano player myself. However, no matter what your love in life you can always find other individuals in this same area, who seem to be worlds better than you see yourself to be. I have found this to be true on Writing.Com. I have been given a bit of acclaim as a writer, but I always find other writers, who make me want to bow low, saying, "I'm unworthy!"
On the one hand this may appear to be self-deprecating. Yet on the other hand there is great wisdom to aspiring to the skills of others, who are greater than ourselves. As the old adage states, "Aim at the Earth and all you will get is dirt. Aim at the sky and you will get the Earth thrown in as a bonus."
We begin this musical journey with Ken Medema is a blind vocalist/pianist, who created the song, titled "Moses" about the great leader of Israel back in the early HIStory of Mankind. The song was first introduced to me during one of the summer music camps of my high school years. We learned this song from Monday through Friday of that week, performing it during the Friday night concert before our parents took us home, thus ending the camp. Ken still plays this as one of his most requested songs at his concerts. He is still blind. He is still joyful. He is still encouraging to me. Ken has an amazing ability to write a song at the piano in front of the audience after half a dozen items, colors and themes are presented to him as prompts for the song. We write prose and poetry from weekly prompts on WDC. Ken Medema can write songs, playing them instantly from audible prompts.
Please, enjoy the song, "Moses."
"The Stars & Stripes Forever" was written by John Philip Sousa in 1896. Please, take note of the break strain in which the piccolos are featured. During a university band concert, I joined our lone piccolo player in our concert band to share the spotlight as this section was featured. This piece of music is very near and dear to my heart for two reasons. I began playing the tuba, during my ninth grade year, when I was 14 years old. We played "The Stars & Stripes Forever," during band concerts and field performances. In honor of my country I feel compelled to stand and salute with my hand over my heart ever time I hear or see a performance of this song, even on a YouTube video. There are many wonderful countries in the world. Some I have visited. Others I would like to visit. Yet the United States of America is my home, and I feel a great sense of national pride, when I experience this great piece of marching band music.
The One Direction song, "What Makes You Beautiful" as performed by The Piano Guys is probably THE most Amazing piano performance I have ever witnessed. The playing of one piano by five different guys as piano duet & trio, drums, harpsichord, and even a violin is beyond fascinating to me. I hope and pray I can play the piano like this one day. There is only One Direction,...UP!
A few people know that Christmas is my favorite time of year. (Actually, those people would include anyone, who talks with me for more than...uh...say...five minutes.) ;) I love the music of Christmas so much that I play wonderful Christmas music twelve months out of the year. The following version of "Angels We Have Heard on High" by The Piano Guys is in a similar style of coolness and it is Christmas music. What's not to love?!! The Joy on the face, the ease of performance, and the ability to draw the viewer into the moment all make the Piano Guys one of the best groups of pianists in the world, today.
Do you weep at the excellence of amazing musicianship? I can't seem to get through these performances of The Piano Guys without crying. What amazing talent! O, how I aspire to be like them! What Glory The LORD receives from such a performance!
The original version of "Lida Rose" from the 1962 movie, The Music Man with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones makes for a wonderful duet between the Buffalo Bills Barbershop Quartet and Shirley Jones. In my blog acouple of days ago I posted this original version from a long-playing record album, which created a sufficient baseline for understanding the humor, which follows with the video of Storm Front. (I have decided to only include the humor in this post in order to make my sixth piece of music in the humorous vein, too.)
This variation by Storm Front, a barbershop quartet from the Colorado Springs/Pike's Peak Area is both vocally sound and dramatically entertaining. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I have watched it over and over and over and over, again.
The way artists create and recreate artistic forms is truly fascinating to me.
I love music of many and varied forms and instrumentations.
I love visual art, which uses watercolors, pastels, acrylics, oil paints, sculpture, mixed media.
I love word smithy.
The ability to take one word or a phrase of words or a theme of the usage of words
and to make them into compositions that are excellent
beyond the ability to describe in words is phenomenal to my heart.
MUSIC is very important to me.
HUMOR ranks right up there on level of importance.
EXCELLENCE in both can never be dismissed.
I can listen to a musician play a piece of music, flawlessly, but if there is no feeling transmitted from the performer to his or her music and then from the music out to the audience, I will leave the concert hall unmoved and in need of some encouragement.
However, if an excellent performer expresses the heart to the music and through the music to me as a member of the audience, especially to the level of forgetting that we, the audience, are even present, then I will be moved to tears,...EVERY TIME.
I have said all of that to say this musical humor touches me to my core as well, but the humor MUST be rendered in the context of a performer, who is an excellent musician in his or her own right. Performing an incompetent piece of music because one doesn't know how to play the instrument may be a little humorous, but it will be very embarrassing. However, when one is a consummate pianist like Victor Borgé, messing up a piece of excellent music on purpose is uproariously FUNNY.
The appreciation of great music, of great paintings, and of great writing shows a level of giftedness in the heart. I may not be able to achieve everything I can appreciate, but my heart longs to be part of this EXCELLENCE!