Monday, June 30, 2008

Music Monday: Music in my Life




For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

I've always loved music. One of my earliest memories was dancing around the house to musicals and the songs of Yves Montand.

As I got older, music led me in various directions. I played piano for 9 years and guitar for 6, but was never good at either, despite a lot of periodic effort on my part.

As a teen, lyrics "spoke" to me, as I think they do for most teens. I was particularly affected by "Miles of Aisles" by Joni Mitchell. I can probably still recite most of the lyrics from most of the songs on that album.

College brought dance nights at local music venues along with the concept of mood music. Additionally, since I was in design school, music kept me going on my drafting and rendering all-nighters.

As an elementary teacher, my classroom was filled with music. I always had different music playing as the children entered in the morning, and we used music to learn about other cultures, to create art projects, and as a stimulus for writing projects. Students would also bring in their favorite cds for break times.

That tradition continued when I taught middle school - my 8th graders seemed to live in my room, and the different music that was on throughout the day taught me about their loves and interests.

It's harder for me to use music in my high school classes now. We only have a little over an hour together each week and I really need to use every second. My students still make "soundtracks" for what we read as creative projects, and I still find it fascinating to see what they'll choose to translate Wharton or Fitzgerald.

I still use music throughout my day. It's agony to cook without music; I listen to music as I work out, when I drive, and if I'm thinking. Music makes housework bearable (sort of). The one time I can't listen to music is when I'm writing. I really need silence for that, oddly enough.

This summer is a summer of taking stock. There are many things I'm trying to sort out. Part of that is thinking (yet again) about my spirituality. My spiritual path could take up many, many entries, but you'd all be bored to tears, so it's not something I'll be discussing here.

I will say that these are two pieces I've been listening to a great deal lately:

Grace by U2
Fishin' For Religion byArrested Development

How do you use music in your life? What are you listening to these days?

35 comments:

Mariposa said...

Nice to be back...and yehey...firsties! :)

I love U2!!! Just love them!

Happy Monday!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Me, too, Mariposa! Happy Monday to you, too!

anno said...

These days I seem to be craving quiet. When I have the choice, I'm listening to nothing but the birds and the breeze...

Mae Travels said...

I agree with you: music is good to accompany many activities -- except writing.

I have iPod playlists for jogging, chosen to keep me going at a varied pace that I can maintain. I like to go from one type of song to another: Beatles, classic Blues, Jerry Lee Lewis, "Not for Kids Only" by Jerry Garcia, odd stuff from Dr. Demento... And at aerobics classes, I hear all kinds of music selected for a proper beat.

In contrast, the car radio buttons go right to the local classical music stations. I don't need an up pace when I drive.

But at home, I also like lots of silence.

thailandchani said...

The last thing your spiritual journey could ever be is "boring". I hope you change your mind about writing it here. :)

"Music calms the savage beast" is probably truer than most of us know or realize.

Aside from the ever-present Mor Lum around here, I also like a lot of the New Age music. It's beautiful and soothing.

Pop music.. naw. Can't even listen to it. The lyrics don't speak to me and I don't care for much bass in anything.

~*

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Anno, silence definitely has its pleasures, too! I enjoy it when out on my balcony, certainly.

Mae, I think part of my penchant for music in the summer is growing up in NYC and having the different summer "beats" be so much of the fabric I grew up in. Having said that, I live on a dirt road outside of A2, in large part because I love the quiet.

Chani, I must say I love bass. A lot of pop turns me off, some I love. I have a huge collection of world beat, which includes New Age, and I love that, too.

marye said...

you know, Jen, it is so funny. I love to listen to music but only when that is what I am doing. I hate it as a background ot anythign else..so distracting for me.

Sister Sassy said...

I LOVE the idea that you have them make a soundtrack. What a wonderful thing, I always think of music when I'm writing, of certain things. As you know from Fiction Friday.

I'll need to check out the Arrested development songs and give Grace another listen.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think part of it, Marye, is that I grew up with music in the house, always. My mother played musicals and popular songs during the day, and we always had classical music at dinner (usually Mozart). My mom still listens to the classical public radio station in New York throughout much of her day.

Sassy, I think you'd LOVE Arrested Development. You might not want to listen to it around Kiki and Boogs, though, because some of the lyrics are... interesting. The CD I've been listening to over and over is 3 years, 5 months and 2 days in the life of...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I use music all the time - I have different music for different moods and seasons. I like world music. My favorites are Middle Eastern and Celtic. Strange combination, but I just love the music of sheep cultures - there is always a bagpipe involved!

I love learning about different aspects of spirituality. I have really been focusing on that aspect of my life too lately - that and cooking!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Jenn, middle eastern and Celtic are two of my faves, too. Are you familiar with Lorena McKennitt? She's a favorite around here and combines the two.

I'm really trying to sort out spirituality as felt in all aspects of living and focus on healing the world, for lack of a better way of phrasing it. Trying to figure out what that means in my life, how that translates to my cooking and writing and what I can do with this to help others lead healthier, happier lives... that's what is occupying me these days.

glamah16 said...

I'm all over the place musicaly. Music is a personal expression for me. I hate it when people ask me whats my favorite becasue there is so much. Or to validate why I like what I like. I guess its away for to meditate ,refocus,dream, etc.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, Glamah,I couldn't agree more. My tastes are extremely eclectic. And my musical moods change frequently.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I listen to music everyday. I also grew up in a house full of music. My siblings were talented musicians (I was so-so) and both parents used to play instruments.

My tastes are also eclectic because of my background. Had we not moved to the 'burbs not sure I would know as much about Classic Rock as I do or all the 80s British bands I loved so much.

To this day when I hear Chopin, Bach or Mozart it reminds me of my sister.

Lilacspecs said...

Music can be good for so many things, spirituality included. If you've never heard "Heaven" by Live, I recommend it.

hotmamamia said...

I couldn't live without music. I played violin for 12 years, piano for 5, guitar for about 5 years and tried to learn trumpet and flute (had trouble with the pucker). I was in chorus and orchestra in elementary school and in both high school and all city orchestras from 7th-12th grade (violin). Music fills my soul...from the Beatles, to Mozart, to Madonna (yes, I do love some of her stuff) to Natalie Cole and the Boston Pops to the Pittsburgh SYmphony....there is no music I don't love in one way or another.

I even WRITE with music in my background...sometimes nature sounds if I need mellow, sometimes Grand Funk Railroad or Aerosmith if I need the energy...

Thanks for energizing me to write this!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

NYC, I feel totally happy to have grown up surrounded by music - it was fun, wasn't it, even if we were both so-so. ;-)

Lilac, I like the couple of pieces I've heard by Live, so I'll definitely check it out.

Hotmamamia - it sounds like you completely love music! What do you write? And thanks for stopping by... do you have a blog I can visit? I can't access you via this google thing. ;-)

Dru said...

I love music and listen to it everyday. We grew up in a house full of music. All of us learned to play an instrument or two.

What I listen to is all over the place. Sometimes the lyrics is what draws me to the song, sometimes it's the beat and sometimes it's both. I need music in my life because I enjoy it.

With the iPod, I can customize it to my musical taste and if I want to hear classical, I could, hip-hop, I could, r&b, rock, soft rock, gospel, it's all at the touch or spin of a wheel.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Dru, I so agree. I absolutely love my iPod.

Dingo said...

I love listening to music. When I hear a song that speaks to me, I always tell Mr. Dingo that we need to add it to my soundtrack.

Sandy C. said...

I love having music on while actively listening, and in the background as well. The only time I cannot have it on is while writing or reading material. There are so many memories from my past that is tied so intricately with music. Just a few measures of some songs can send me right back to a particular moment in time :)

BusyDad said...

Music during chores. Essential!! I used to also not be able to write while listening to music. But now that I write on the train so much (and my iPod is standard train equipment), I have gotten used to it. And my shuffle function has dug up some old favorites that I totally forgot about (like from back in 96-97!). One of those is a Boston band called Buffalo Tom. Man, they are good!

Goofball said...

funny how you write that lyrics are important for teenagers.

Since most music is in English in Belgium...and we truly aren't as articulate in English as teenagers yet...I've never truly learned to listen to lyrics and I still have a hard time doing so. Somehow I don't manage to concentrate on lyrics at all. Most songs have some sentences that I know (e.g. the title and the chorus...) and 80% of phrases I don't know. Now and then I hear something on the radio and all of a sudden a phrase jumps out and I realise "oh is that what he/she is singing?".

For me music is mostly about the sound. I used to have the radio/CD-player on all day, but lately it's been replaced by the tv at home. I get nervous by absolute silence but I did realise lately that I am not so much truly "listening" to music anymore. We don't buy CD-s anymore but shop on itunes....but I don't have the iPod. Jan does. So I buy stuff...to realise 3 months later that I haven't had a real chance to listen to it yet more than once briefly. dugh. But at work we have the radio on all the time in the background, so I am usually up to date with the popular hits.

I used to play the flute daily for over 10 years!

Greg said...

Music is more of an occasional pleasure these days. Much of what I hear on the radio is hard for me to connect to. My wife and I are blessed with a number of musician friends, and we often go to see them when they are performing.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Dingo... I love the idea of having a permanent soundtrack.

Sandy - I forgot about reading - I certainly don't listen to music when reading, either.

I love the shuffle function for that very reason, BusyDad! There are always new "discoveries" coming up. There was a period of time, however, when it kept bringing up Dream Girls songs over and over, so I deleted the Dream Girls soundtrack from the iPod for a bit, lol. It was like the iPod had a mind of its own and really had a thing for Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce.

That's so interesting, Goofball, because I think favorite songs are definitely a coming-of-age thing here. I was always so in awe of people who played the flute. I was never able to even provoke a sound out of it.

Greg, that's the absolute best! I had some friends in a wonderful town band, but they split up, so I don't get to go to those concerts anymore. One advantage of making music an occasional pleasure is you can more fully focus on the task at hand in all likelihood, but I'm addicted to my music and really "need" it for certain activities - like right now, as I go to work out!

Goofball said...

oh Jen, but as a teenager I couldn't live without music either. I recorded a few hundred tapes myself which played non-stop. And we hang out posters in our classrooms of our favorite groups etc...
But that doesn't mean I was very much into lyrics. If I knew the title and the chorus, I was already more than happy. I rarely like a song because of (the entire) lyrics.

Hotmamamia said...

Jen--
I actually wrote a text book for deaf education and I just like to write 'stuff'...blogging has beena great window for me as I was not writing at all for a long time...I am still getting used to this blogging thing but think I am finding my voice...my blog is: www.hotmamamia.wordpress.com

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Thanks so much for getting back in touch, Mamamia! I actually found your blog yesterday by googling it. I think I left a couple of comments there. Great blog!

Becca said...

Music has been a driving force in my life for the past 45 years, running neck and neck with my love of books and words.

Right now, I'm listening to chamber music - Beethoven and Mozart Piano trio's - because they feed a little musical dream of mine (having a piano trio of my own).

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, what luxury to have a piano trio! I wish I had musical talent, but my main talent seems to be listening.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

How wonderful that you incorporated so much music into your classrooms! With all of the studies out there linking music to higher test scores and improved academic performance, I don't understand why so many in the schools resist! When will the school administrators realize that education is not just about the 3 R's. If we want to raise our kids into intelligent, caring and sensitive adults, we need to educate the "whole child" and that means the Arts!

In my daughter's elem. school, they had music and art classes for only 2 weeks per quarter. They had no chorus and no instruments. The music teacher was a nice lady, but she said she had no time for either. In order to have a school chorus, I had to start one. As a trained musician, I volunteered my time for 3 years as choral director and I had kids clamoring to join! I had to move on when my daughter graduated to middle school. Those kids (and parents) cried and begged me to stay. I wish I could've done that, because that chorus left with me. Sigh...

Sorry to be so wordy. I feel really strongly about this issue.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, Susan, I couldn't agree with you more. The arts are being cut back to a sliver, and how will our children grow as fully-rounded individuals.

You did a great service for your daughter's school. I can't believe their arts and music were so minimal.

I've always used music or art in my classes at whatever level. Some students brains can communicate better in a more abstract fashion than the typical writing or regurgitation exercises to show what they understand. That's such a basic, and I'm not sure why folks don't incorporate this more. It's easy, and honestly, as a teacher, much more fun to "grade" the assignments! ;-)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Yes, Jen, I love Loreena! :)

Yeah, sounds similar to what I have been thinking about too...must be in the air!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Imagine, Jenn, if it were in the air all over - we'd actually be on the way to some good healing!

April said...

"In the Heights" is our latest passion - although we're currently taking a break to go back to "Into the Woods," as I was in need of all of life's answers. Yep, they're there :)
I still think lyrics speak to me!