Tuning the Mountains
The Language of Music
Music has wafted out from the Appalachian mountains, probably since the world began. Time honored tunes resonate through voices and instruments played by nimble fingers doing what comes naturally. Every celebration, every weekend gathering includes a band or just one or two strumming and singing. This is the culture I grew up with and have enjoyed all my life. Sweet lullabies of Gospel, Southern Gospel and Contemporary Christian music cradled me from the crib throughout my childhood, young adulthood and beyond. Country music has been at the heart of my life as well. Whatever your preference in music, you know what I'm talking about. It's the stuff that flows in your veins, taking away the cares of life.
(photos by author)
It Started with a Tune
I don't remember the first time I ever heard music -- it was probably an uncle or one of my cousins playing a guitar and singing one of the popular songs of the time.
My parents raised me in church from a very young age, so I "cut my teeth" on the sounds of Gospel being plunked out on an old upright piano, by guys with guitars and someone singing praises to God. It was not always a professional sound, but it came from the heart of the person performing. Everyone loved it when we had an "all music" service so we could sing and enjoy singing even longer.
Our region is also known as the Birthplace of Country Music, which has beckoned people in from across the country, as well as visitors from other countries. On street corners and in back road barns, the sounds of jubilation accompanied by an upright bass pour out into the highways and byways. You might even see some cloggers up on the dance floor inviting onlookers to join them to dance the night away.
Even if you don't particularly fancy traditional music the atmosphere will carry you away and, for a time, you forget the world outside as you're carried on melodic wings into the joyful harmonies.
Grab Your Instruments and Sing Along!
Music is the sound that transcends boundaries of all kinds. It adds a little fun to any occasion. Here are some musical offerings with instructions and information to make you a member of the band in no time! So grab a guitar, or a banjo -- or just grab your spoons and enjoy the tunes.
On the Count of Three.... Start Playing
I asked and asked and asked some more.... and finally received a guitar for Christmas one year. My husband complied when I informed him that I did not want a gift that year if my demands couldn't be met. I simply would not open any other gift if it was not guitar-shaped.
That was six years ago...
Since then, I have taken lessons from accomplished musicians. I've tried to teach myself using techniques that I learned in my private lessons. I bought a wonderful guitar home study course -- and used it a couple of times. I found out something through all of my trying and musical struggles -- 1. singing is easier than playing an instrument, and 2. you have to sit down and actually practice.
I think it's the region where I live that spurs me to keep the hope inside me that I will one day play my guitar! It's just part of being "from here". It's something every Southern Appalachian native should be able to do, right?
I love music and I love listening to it.I love singing and I do a lot of that. Learning to play an instrument is a little more challenging for me than singing. Well, a lot more challenging. But it's not impossible. So, be encouraged if you are learning to play any instrument. It can be done -- there's evidence all around us. Lots of people play, and play well. You just have to make the time to practice and stick to it. It seems to be easier when you're younger and don't have the responsibilities that most grown ups find themselves in the midst of. Life happens, but there always has to be time for music.
I also tried learning to play the piano. That was even more years ago and it was actually not that hard. Once again - practice, practice, practice didn't happen. I want to sit down at an instrument, or just pick one up and instantly know exactly what to do. I want it to sound good the first time so I don't have to practice. When you figure out how to do that, please let me know!
In the meantime, I'll be playing the radio (something I do very well) and singing along.
Please share your comments about this lens, or your stories about music and/or learning to play an instrument!