Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Music Nuggets

     Each week I will be posting a music nugget.  I hope to post a varied assortment; one might be a video link or blog post, another a piece of music history or tip from me, or......who knows!  My plan is to post one each Friday, at least.  Today I have a link to a fabulous You Tube video featuring Perlman and Zukerman playing Passacaglia  (Handel-Halvorsen)).  Oh, it is beautiful...and what playing!!  What a gorgeous sounding
viola!     
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoGErup6-xk

Musings On Rhythm

     My thoughts have been revisiting the windshield wipers incident I posted about recently.  I keep feeling there is more for me to learn from this.  I suppose this post is to help me through the process.
     What to do when traveling in the back of a car on a rainy day...?   If a song is on the radio I almost always see if the beat of the wipers matches that of the song.  Maybe it's a musician thing, kind of like harmonizing with doorbell and car door chimes.
     The beats rarely match.  Sometimes they will be in synch briefly, but they move apart.
     When I was younger this would bug me.  It was kind of like out of tune notes.  Painful. So I was on a quest to find a song that fit the beat of the wipers.  So far it seems to be a quest without an ending.  I can't recall a song which has matched all the way through.
     So much for perfection.  There just isn't much of it in this life.  Rhythmic pulse away from a metronome wanders to some extent; intonation during a performance is never right on all the time.  Even the best soloist will make mistakes in a performance; they just might be too subtle to be noticed by the audience.  I could go on and on about the imperfection of life, but hopefully you get the idea.
     Our human songs are not going to match the beat of the regulated wipers.  We can, however, have moments of perceived perfection, and we can grow and progress to approach perfection.
     As a musician my goal is perfection, but that goal changes as soon as I think I might have reached it.  As my playing improves I see ways that it can be refined.  And so forth and so forth.
     It is that way in our personal growth, too.  The more we learn and grow, the more we see ahead and how we can refine our behavior.  It can be humbling.
     On a spiritual note, that is why I need the atonement of Christ.  The more I use those wipers, the better I can see what is ahead and how to get there.   Maybe more about that later.
     Well, enough rambling for now.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dashees Garden has Moved Here

    Dashees Garden, my other blog, has been incorporated into this blog.  The other blog is no longer active.  Look for DG posts under the label Dashees Garden.
     Labels have been redone, reduced and simplified..  Thank-you!

Voices

     My family was, and is, full of singers.  And the singing was not "run of the mill", but beautiful.  My natural dad and his older sister sang, and it seems almost everyone in my mother's family sang.  My brother sings.  My sister has a beautiful voice.  I guess I sing (I call myself the runt in this regard).
     Singing was a natural part of life when I was young.  My mother took singing lessons and sang solos in the church choir.  She gave a recital.  Mother usually sang the contralto solos from The Messiah at Christmas or Easter.  She played piano, and almost every day she would take time to play and sing for her own enjoyment.  Sometimes she entertained my sister and me, often with songs from the Raggedy Ann Songbook.  She particularly enjoyed spirituals and was a fan of Marian Anderson.  She really liked the song My Lord, What a Morning ; I can still hear her singing that one!
     My sister and I imitated her voice, a deep, rich mezzo soprano, and called it the "big lady voice".  It was great fun to imitate when playing dolls.  I still recall her warming up for choir on Sunday mornings and before lessons.
     My dad sang bass in the church choir.  He was very musical and could play piano by ear. He enjoyed popular music, especially jazz, and enjoyed singing in small men's groups.  I think he would just love the group Straight, No Chaser if he was still alive!  My mother told stories about how my dad ingratiated himself to a fraternity he wanted to join at IU with his piano skills.
     My dad's older sister had a beautiful soprano voice, but she could also sing in what I call her "everyday" voice.  She used this while teaching music to handicapped children.  I heard it whenever my aunts drove us to their lake cottage....she taught us rounds on the way.  It was lots of fun.
     I could go on and on about other extended family, including great aunts.  Music was just a part of life and we enjoyed it.
     My mother was a fan of the Leonard Bernstein children's programs which were televised when I was young.  I enjoyed them. In conjunction with these  my mother taught me all the instruments of an orchestra.
     My sister and I were exposed to all kinds of music.  The radio was usually playing in the morning.  I remember some of the early rock and roll songs of the 1950s.  Mother would often play  45 records of the Four Freshmen, a favorite group of my dad.  The one that was usually played had the words Standing on the corner, watching all the girls, watching all the girls go by.  We listened to musicals such as My Fair Lady, South Pacific and Kismet.  We watched them on TV (like Peter Pan).  We listened to records of Disney music, Tubby the Tuba, Peter and the Wolf, the Nutcracker Suite, and Bozo on the Farm.  We heard Mantovani strings (lots of this!) and Barbra Streisand (she loved Barbra!).
     We heard  opera.  She took us to see La Traviata when I was a teen..... a magical experience because she prepared us well.
     There was lots of classical music at home.  I  remember Richard Strauss' Til Eulenspiegel  (scary), The Grand Canyon Suite (one of her favorites), the major Beethoven piano sonatas, Bach preludes and fugues, Tchaikovsky symphonies 5 and 6, Beethoven symphonies, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (we had fun dancing around the house to this when my parents were gone) )and collections of short classical pieces such as March of the Three Oranges by Prokofiev.
      My mother tried to teach me how to play the piano at about age 6 and changed me to other teachers, but the piano and I did not get along.  I've never been much of a singer, either. Fortunately I fell in love with the violin and viola and they became my voices, thanks to a mother who recognized my talents and gave me opportunities to use them.  I have much to be grateful for!

  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Aha! Moment

     Since I was a child I have loved music.  I hummed my way through my early years, both at home and at school.  My mother frequently exposed me to all kinds of music and I ate it up.  I fell in love with the violin at age 9 and the viola later.  In every interest survey I took there was only one--music.  Nothing else even came close.
     At times I have felt both a deep love for music and a strong desire to play my instrument well.  The desire to perform has never left me. It still flares up, and when it does I am astounded that it is still there.
     Where does this come from?  I know that my talents are God-given and I express gratitude for them and the opportunities I have been given, but until today I did not understand about the desire I feel.  I have always thought that the latter is just part of my nature.  It's me. 
     This morning I learned that this desire is a gift from God.  He wants me to have it for His reasons, whatever they may be.  That desire has motivated me, and, again, it is a gift.  Without it my musical talents would be underdeveloped and/or dormant.  Because the desire is a gift from God, it can be taken away if needs be.  A scary thought, but I also learned that another can be planted in its place.  No need to be concerned or worried about the loss; just trust in Heavenly Father.
     My cut and sutured finger has been healing well.  I began to carefully play two weeks after the accident. There is hardly any scar, and I have full function.  Mr. Finger is working out doing jumps and runs and he has a concert this weekend!  There is some numbness on the side, but it seems to be slowly fading.  Apparently my playing must continue, at least for now.  I am grateful for the power of the Holy Priesthood.
     I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit.  I learned this morning from the Spirit; it verified the truth of it to me during prayer, and it was both a  humbling and comforting experience.  Life is a gift, even down to the details.
     I wanted to share this experience because maybe it will help someone else understand.  Hope it does.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blankets

     Sometimes life seems muffled.  It gets covered with blankets of monotony as gray and still as the landscape outside.  It's hard to hear.
      Found a quote about faith on a blog I read and thought it would be nice to post it.  It is helpful to me!  Marjorie Hinckley was the wife of  a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; she was a lovely woman.

"Who knows that something wonderful may happen today. Have faith that it will. After all, every morning is a chance at a new day!"

~Marjorie Pay Hinckley


   

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Windshield Wipers

     While driving recently I had to squirt and wash my windshield clear of dirty spray from other vehicles. If I didn't clean often, the build up of dirt would get so bad that I couldn't see the road, and certainly not anything ahead, like signs!
     In the process I thought about how that activity is like life.  Each day my spirit gets hit with spiritual dirt and every Sunday I partake of the Sacrament, a renewal of my baptismal covenants (something like communion in other churches).  I start over spiritually.  The window is washed clean, so to speak, by Christ's atonement.
     That dirty spray comes from many sources, such as inappropriate actions or thoughts on my part as well as the negative influence of others.  If I don't address clearing my spiritual view on a regular basis I will lose my way;  perspective becomes dim and finally completely hidden , leaving me vulnerable to deep spiritual wounds.
     We are not perfect, and sometimes we can not avoid the effects of what others do.  I have been taught that we can be healed of these things through repentance and the atonement of Christ; through the thoughtful and worthy partaking of the Sacrament each week.
     Car windows don't get clean without some kind of liquid, a special cleaner or even just water!  I am reminded of the story of Christ meeting the Samaritan woman at the well and teaching her about "living water", the Gospel of Christ.  That's the only spiritual cleanser that works.
     How does one get this cleanser?  I am being reminded to read and study the Scriptures on a daily basis, among other things.  Sometimes it is so hard to make myself do this!  When I do, I am rewarded.  My spiritual battery is charged; my washer jug gets a refill.
     Maybe this will encourage someone else................signing off for now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dashee Snowflakes

     My mind is being flooded with new ideas for my Etsy shop.  These have been fueled in part by discovering the Etsy Treasury and the invitation for sellers to make their own treasuries, which can be listed for anyone to see.  Check out this feature of Etsy.  It's especially fun to make a collection....in fact, I have become a bit obsessed with it.  I have a growing collection of collections!  I have discovered that playing with the Treasury is a fun way to get a feel for the huge range of what is offered to both buyers and sellers, it helps connect you to others, and it boosts creativity.  One of my collections was inspired by snowflakes, and a few days after making it I began to have some ideas for things to make for my little shop.  Below are photos of things I am playing with.....buds of Dashee Snowflakes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

White

Below are some photos I took while on a recent trip through northern Indiana.  They were taken on a cold, sunny day following a foggy morning.  It looked like a fairyland!
 

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.