Recently, I came across a photo of myself and a longtime family friend, Bonnie (Craw) Kosloski, from a July 4th celebration years ago. We were dressed in our red, white and blue patriotic best and sharing (or subjecting, depending on your point of view) our families to ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ on recorder.
This isn’t the first or last time music accompanied my family celebrations. I recall other years that the Craw family and my family would get together, and we kids (there were six of us total) would regale the adults in the room with self-produced plays and music. In my own family, my cousin Sondra often directed her siblings and cousins in Christmas performances as our parents and grandparents watched.
Suffering with shyness growing up, performing in front of a group was daunting for me, although it helped that I was surrounded by a group of people in the same predicament. Our hearts were in those performances, and we aimed to please. Looking back on these childhood concerts, I remember feeling at the time that I was contributing to something larger than myself. There is a sense of community in celebrating, and music al expression in particular lends itself to striving toward a common goal: Harmony.
We hear music accompanying ceremonial events, anniversaries of note, celebrations and tragedies. Musical scoring is designed to effectively set the tone or rouse our emotions during our favorite TV shows, movies and documentaries. It is possible to take in these events without being aware that, so often, music is soothing us, or stirring our emotions, or inciting us to take action. Yet, it is there. Whether we turn an ear to listen, or attempt to express and summon emotions through performance, music has the power to bring us together in shared experience.
So, the next time children in your life wish to dress in costume and regale you with a concert of recorder music, take heart: they are sharing of themselves for you, and with you. I am thankful to my parents, family members and friends for encouraging me to express myself through music throughout childhood.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of this piece and my childhood memories, here is a YouTube video of talented fourth graders performing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ on recorder:
Sara Stromseth-Troy is a freelance newspaper feature writer for The Cresco Times Plain Dealer, and serves as Young Adult Librarian and manages the social media accounts for The Cresco Public Library. Fortunate to grow up surrounded by an extended family of music educators, she is honored to volunteer in blog writing and social media for The Spirit of Harmony Foundation, on whose advisory board she sits. She lives in Cresco, Iowa.