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The Sound of Music

Updated on August 20, 2014

My Favorite Movie Ever

This is one movie that has stuck with me for decades. I can't forget it. I find myself spontaneously humming or singing the songs. I find myself thinking about the movie and the family whose story it tells. I find myself comparing my voice range with that of Julie Andrews, who plays Maria von Trapp. In fact, she has a huge range (four octaves, I think) and mine is close. I can sing any voice from baritone to first soprano.

For wholesome entertainment, it can't be beat. And it tells several really important and vital stories. It is a paean to the idea of righteousness and moral principle, and standing up against tyranny.

And it's downright entertaining.

There is even a romance involved, well, actually two, if you really think about it. There is the daughter Liesl, who falls in love with a young man who becomes a member of the Nazi youth. But underlying that is the romance between the rich Captain von Trapp and the young nun who came to be a governess to his seven children.

I liked it so much, I read the book as well. In fact, if I would have ever had the opportunity, I would have gone to see the live performance, but that never happened. At least not yet.

The movie had other influences on our family. For one thing, I got interested in learning to play the recorder. When the von Trapps emigrated to America, they set up music camps where they taught children to play the recorder. This medieval instrument had largely slid into obscurity, but there was a revival of interest. I bought recorders for each of the children, and we joined the Recorder Society. This group met once a month, and we sight read music for recorder. It had different ability levels. It was a lot of fun. I even attended a convention once (and thereby hangs a sad tale, because when we left the meeting, we stopped to talk to another woman who had attended, and she let her dog out of the car, and our youngest son petted him, and then the owner got out some food, and at that point, the dog bit our son's hand. The woman KNEW the dog was likely to do something like that, and did it anyway. She promised to reimburse us for emergency room expenses, but she never did. I also ran into a doctor there who decided to complain to local child protection people because I wouldn't let him give our son every treatment he wanted to. But that's a whole other tale, and it doesn't affect how I feel about the movie.)

From playing the recorder, our children went on to other instruments. One of our requirements was that each child needed to choose an instrument and learn to play it. They also needed to learn to read music. In order, oldest to youngest, they chose:

classical guitar

flute, voice

violin, viola, piano, trombone, handbells, conducting, singing opera

trumpet

flute, viola

French horn

classical guitar

Most of the children didn't do much with their instrument once they left home, but I felt it was important because one of the things people tend to think if they grow up without learning some kind of music, is that they can't learn it as an adult. We wanted to make sure they never felt that way.

Image used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

The Story

Maria is a postulate at a local convent, but she learns that her dream doesn't lie there. After consulting with the Mother Superior about her future, she takes a job as the governess of seven children of the wealthy widower, Captain Georg von Trapp. At first, she observes that the children are highly regimented by their disciplined military father, and she takes the time to worm her way into their hearts.

The oldest daughter, Liesl, develops a crush on the boy Rolf, who tells her he will take care of her and teach her everything she needs to know, because he is a year older. When he enters the von Trapp household, and salutes the family with a Sieg Heil, he is ordered to leave. The captain is loyal to freedom and to his country, and not interested in supporting the Nazi regime.

The captain is supposed to marry Elsa Schräder, but can't bring himself to do it. Something about young Maria captures his heart as well.

Upon return to the convent, Maria is torn, and the mother superior senses that her destiny lies elsewhere, and bids her to follow her heart. When she goes back, the family will sing a concert, but it has become obvious that the family needs to escape for its safety. As the concert progresses, one von Trapp child after another escapes to the waiting car, and in the end, all are taken to the convent, just as the Nazis arrive at the concert venue to arrest them. They hide in the convent.

Rolf discovers them, and they beg him to join them, but he blows the whistle on them instead, and as the Nazis arrive again, they must escape once more, this time over the Alps into Switzerland. To help them escape, the sisters at the convent sabotage the Nazi vehicles.

This story will keep you on the edge of your seat as the family works to escape from the Nazis who want to enslave all of them. It has all the elements of a really good story, and if you like wholesome entertainment, this one is for you. Let this movie capture your heart, both for the story, and for music.

Have You Seen The Sound of Music? - What did you think of it?

Have you seen The Sound of Music?

Playing the Recorder

Describing how the recorder is played is easy. Mastering the playing is another matter.

The recorder is the precursor to the modern flute.

Fingers are placed over the holes, and each note is played by closing various holes by a single finger or a combination of fingers. Some notes are played by covering the hole partly. As you can see above, this soprano recorder has two holes for the bottom two fingers, to make it easy to cover the hole partly, but in other cases, you simply don't completely close down the hole. Higher notes can be achieved as overtones, by blowing a bit harder.

Recorder concertos written during the baroque era usually used sopranino recorders as solo instruments. I suspect the reason is because the sopranino has the most piercing sound, which is needed over an orchestra. The deeper the pitch and greater the size of the instrument, the more mellow it becomes. This is why I like the tenor recorder so much.

For a person who started on piano, I find the F tuned sizes somewhat confusing, but I suspect I could overcome this difficulty easily enough. The important thing to remember in choosing which size to learn is that C fingering opens you to two sizes, while F to three, without confusion. Obviously, you can learn to play them all, but it is a bit more difficult, especially if you read music (which you really should learn to do).

The nice thing about playing these instruments is that it is inexpensive to start with, and gives you access to good ensemble groups that are organized just for fun, so it is an easy way to get into music.

You Tube preview, full length movie available

Excerpts from the original movie, with emphasis on the songs.

Movie, Books, and Recorders

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

by Maria Augusta Trapp

Maria von Trapp's memoirs

Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story

by John Holt

If you are an adult, and you think it's too late to learn to make music, think again. The cello is much more difficult to play than the recorder, but John Holt had a lot of fun with it anyway. Out of print, but readily available.

Consider learning to play the recorder.

My first recorder was a tenor in pearwood. It's very nice, and I enjoyed playing it a lot.

The least expensive are the plastic ones. Pearwood and other woods (maple, for example) are available if you are more serious about it.

Recorders come in five sizes:

Soprano and tenor are in the key of C

Sopranino, alto, and bass are in the key of F

I recommend the baroque fingering, because it is standard and widespread.

These are all available on Amazon.

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