Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Accordion Hours

A few days ago Ruth, over at synch-ro-ni-zing, asked readers to broaden her musical base by submitting their favourite music recommendations.

Music is a huge part of my world. Always has been.

As a child, I studied piano... and ok, really, I studied accordion and piano only for a year but I really really wanted to stick with piano. My father would say, but you can't take a piano to a party. You can always take your accordion.

And I would reply, "I wouldn't be caught dead taking my accordion to a party!"

Okay, so I wouldn't say it to his face. I'd save it for years later when I could use it as part of 'my story'. One of those funny, throw away lines I invoked when friends talked about music they'd played, or instruments they'd learned long ago and I would admit to my deepest darkest secret.... I played the accordion!

In those days of youth, I obeyed my father, or faced the consequences. Not wanting to face anything other than being able to go out and play with my friends, which I couldn't do until after I practiced for an hour, I would mutter unhappily under my breath, haul out the accordion and start practicing.

My sister Anne also played. She practiced. Regularly. Even though the dog, Jasper, would sit outside the door of the room where we were playing and howl. And I mean howl! Loud. Plaintive. Sad howls. I never knew if he was sad we were playing, or sad that we couldn't go out and play when we wanted -- which often included him. Stuck in the purgatory of our accordion hours, he would howl until we stopped and one of us took him for a walk.

As the least wanting to practice member of the duo, I opted for the walk while Anne practiced. Which would explain why she always beat me on our Conservatory exams. (who even knew you could take conservatory exams for accordion!? It's true. You could. Grade 8 theory and practice in fact!)

Music lived at the soul of our family. More than food, music defined the times and the places we lived. From big band era to soul to folk, my father had an album to play. From Canada to France to Germany, music moved with us and amidst us.

Sunday mornings were marching bands -- full blast. Pounding throughout the house. "Time to get up and get marching!" my father would intome. And get up we would. Church was no longer on the menu in those days. It would be a VolksMarch through the Black Forest with a stop at a Schnitzel Haus for lunch, the dog asleep under the table as we drank crystal clear Gewurtztraminer and wolfed down plates of Weiner Schnitzel and Frites.

Sunday dinners were prone to the folksy sounds of Esther and Abi Ofarim or something more melodic like one of the crooners or Astrid Gilberto. And any moment of the week could be filled with sounds from trombones to guitars. Sweet music to hard rock.

That was the music of my youth.

Herb Albert. Duke Ellington. Dave Brubeck. Stan Getz. Bach to Vivaldi. Elvis Presley. The Beatles. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

Yesterday, as I drove back from Canmore where I'd gone to give a speech, my Ipod blasted Keith Jarrett's, Koln Concert, and I was lifted up to heights beyond my imaginings as the powerful notes flying off of Jarrett's fingers filled the tiny capsule of my car with the big, voluptuous notes of his piano.

this morning, as I type, the bourbon infused, smoke laden voice of Tom Waits plays in the background -- it is Tom Waits who takes me back to those days long ago when my father played his music at 33rpm and I waltzed through the house entranced by the sounds coming out of the record player.

The music still lives in my heart. It still stirs me. Moves me. Gives expression to me.

Perhaps that's why today's Mermaid card resonates so powerfully within me. "Music for Manifesting". It reads, "Music is a powerful ally on your spiritual path... Music is part of the invisible realm... It wraps us in a protective shield to guard us from negative energies."

May your day be filled with music, with notes of positivity pushing back negative energies calling you to ignore the music of your heart. May your heart be stirred by sweet notes of hope and love and possibilities. May you dance with joy.


Maureen said...

Research has shown that even when all else is gone, our memory of music remains intact.

I think it's swell you played the accordian, an instrument my elder sister took up (no one knew why she was drawn to it). I was too small to handle it so took up piano, at which I'm no longer any good. My son was born with music in his veins; he sings and plays at least six instruments.

I enjoyed this post very much.

S. Etole said...

today the birds provide my music ...

Patricia said...

I enjoyed this Louise... my dad always had music in the house too. The elderly friends I've made in a local retirement center sometimes can't remember their names, but they can always sing lyrics!

Anonymous said...

in grade school, i wanted to play the drums.
i ended up learning the flute. and playing in the
band through high school.

good story.

Ruth said...

Thanks for the 'spinoff' from my music post. It's great to get more detail here. I so wish I had discovered some of those jazz greats when I was younger. But oh well, I can explore now.

I love Tom Waits. The soul I feel! That's really it, isn't it. Music is the language of the soul, someone said. I love silence, but I am searching out music more and more for some of my solitary tasks, like cooking.

trisha said...

i believe dogs hate music. :)