Have you ever heard a favorite song come on and, following the advice of Ronnie Van Zant, gone ahead and just “turned it up?”
Of course you have. Everyone has.
Right now, in the back of my mind, I am hearing the guitar lead-in to “Sweet Child O’Mine.” I may or may not be playing a bit of air guitar.
Or, perhaps it is some intricate lyric from “Into the Woods,” arguably Sondheim at his best.
Oh wait, wait, wait… the tag of “When I see an Elephant Fly” by Vocal Spectrum. (See it on YouTube) My advice, take a really deep breath and try to hang.
My point is this…for all these things, is that music, no matter what the category, has the power to take you to a different place in a matter of seconds. Most of us will never play like Clapton, sing like Steve Perry or write like anyone on the long list of geniuses who have their names permanently attached to a piece of music.
But all of us, for that briefest of moments, were inspired by music. Inspired to sing along, inspired to share with our friends.
And yes, inspired to play a little air guitar. Or drums.
Or try to hold that note. Seriously, give it a try.
This year, the National Music Federation has set aside May 1-8 as National Music Week. This year’s theme is “Music…is Inspiration.”
This year’s theme is both incredibly broad and yet oddly narrow.
On one hand, music is, for nearly everyone, our first connection with communication. Your mom sang to you, you sing to your children…they will likely sing the same songs to their children some day. It’s how we begin to connect.
Somewhere along the way, many forget, or at least lose track of that connection. It never, ever goes away, but like your biceps or your memory, the music gene requires exercise.
That is why it is so vitally important that children be given the opportunity to play and sing, and that they be encouraged to continue it. A life with music running through it as the main artery is uplifting.
A story, if you will.
When I was a freshman in high school, my late mother decreed that if I was of a mind to go out for football, I could also sing in the high school chorus. I had played coronet in grade school, so I had a passing knowledge of music and had found my parents’ All-State Chorus records in the deep recesses of our old stereo and had listened to them many times.
So, reluctantly I joined the chorus. There were seven boys in the entire high school chorus that year (I was the lone football player) and about 30 girls. We were vastly outnumbered. But our director picked a fun song for us boys to sing at regional music contest - it was six parts and frankly, we killed it. We were great. That was the year that I discovered the beauty of harmony and how not singing the melody was WAY more fun.
Fast forward to my senior year. There were 28 boys who reported for chorus that fall, 17 of us were also on the football team. Whatever our director was selling was being purchased in large quantity and we had one of the largest groups at contest that year, from any school in our area. We rocked.
I never played football again after high school, but up until a few years ago, when I quit actively using my vocal chords, I could hold my own in nearly any tenor section of a choir. The love and appreciation never waned, however.
Through various iterations of mixed ensembles or choirs, barbershop choruses as well as musical theater, the love of music was cultivated in me by people who did it for the fun of it.
Without a doubt, singing in church choirs was the absolute best. Great choir members, the best directors and honestly, some of the most beautiful choral music ever written, all adds up to a wonderful memory.
Maybe it’s not inspiration to go and write something as diabolically perfect as a musical, or inspiration to pen the next hit on the radio, but music inspires people every day and makes their lives better.
That chance to allow inspiration to strike at the precise moment it is most needed should be allowed to grow and flourish in everyone.
So, play some rock and roll, listen to a glorious choral work or maybe some Mozart or Tchaikovsky. Get inspired.
And most importantly, pass it on and encourage that next generation.