Created by Ruth Elliott

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jamming with the Generations

Image via WikipediaWide angle photo of the action of a Kawai UST-...

I come from a musical family. My mom, Isabel, played the piano, accordion, trombone, and violin. She sang solos at church. When she was younger, she was in a Gilbert & Sullivan production of the Pirates of Penzance. My dad, Don, met my mom at a Bible camp. He heard someone playing the accordion and followed the sound to discover my mom there.

The piano at the social center in the 19th cen...Image via Wikipedia

My mom came from a musical family. I remember listening to her sister, Elsie, singing with a Sweet Adelines group. One of my mom's prized possessions was an ornately carved upright piano. This piano was inherited by her dad from his father (B. P. Richardson). Since my great grandfather died in 1910, the piano is more than 100 years old.

As I was growing up, I took piano lessons and practiced on this beautiful piano. My five younger brothers and sisters also learned to play with this piano. Each of my siblings also learned to play another musical instrument (euphonium, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and flute). We would gather around the piano and play and sing. My mom was so delighted with her musical children.

Once I stopped taking piano lessons (when I was 15, in Grade 8 of Royal Conservatory Music), I continued to play the piano. I turned from playing classical music to popular music and church music. I practiced more once I ceased piano lessons than before. I was now playing whatever I wanted to play. Over the years since then, I have discovered such solace and comfort in playing the piano.

When we had our three children, I wanted them to learn to play the piano for their own enjoyment. All three took piano lessons. They also learned to play other instruments (trombone, flute, saxophone, and tuba). This year, when my daughter went to Ambrose University in Calgary, she took her flute with her. She joined an orchestra and began jam sessions with a small group of students. Prior to this, she had only played the notes on the page. Now she has learned to improvise.

When my daughter came home for Christmas, she kept asking us to jam with her. Finally we sat down to do this. My husband got out his guitar (which he hasn't played for over 20 years). My daughter played the flute. My son (the tuba player who doesn't own a tuba) and I team-played the piano. I sang. We ended up singing and playing our way through the entire Reader's Digest Christmas songbook. It was so much fun.

In the last few years of her life, my mom (who died in 1998) had difficulty with singing and playing the piano. She said that she was looking forward to playing the piano in heaven.

The other evening I thought of how delighted my mom, her father, and grandfather would have been to see the fruits of their musical gifts being expressed in joyous song in my living room. Maybe they were playing along in the heavenly realms (jamming with the generations).

Joy to the World. Merry Christmas to you. May you enjoy the gift of being with your family and loved ones at Christmas.
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1 comment:

  1. Love this Ruth. Beautifuly written.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Shirley J