Saturday, September 27, 2014

Music to Work By

This past weekend I attended a writing conference.

That one sentence is packed with hours and hours of back story, believe me. I soaked up more ideas and suggestions than I ever imagined possible. I compared notes with other writers. I signed copies of my books and in turn purchased other books for those authors to sign for me.

A good time was had by all. 
(I just love that sentence! It seems so classical.)

Then I returned home and sat in front of my computer to apply all this new-found knowledge. The issue was not what did I learn that I can use. The issue for me was, where do I begin.


I'll start with music and the notes from the intensive revision workshop. Music, "it seems," awakens all parts of the brain, including both the creative and the logical. Music calms the brain, slows it, and the right music perks it back up. Make a play list of music to fit your manuscript, says the instructor. So, since working with a little surround sound makes perfectly good sense, I began delving, searching, surfing the web for the music that fits my writings.

I'm currently working on a project about a small town baseball field and no, I'm not going to run through an all day, YouTube marathon of Take Me Out to the Ballgame video selections. 

But I can't help but revert back to the Lessons Learned manuscript and the many hours I sat before the computer, no background noises, typing, creating, researching and revising. Music permeated the community, so why did I sit in silence. It was such a part of life in the South Mountains. People I interviewed invariably mentioned music. 

If only I had listened to "Cripple Creek," a Bluegrass favorite of the students there at Pilot Mountain School. There also was "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" during recess time, the banjo player picking on the front porch of the house across the road from the school. There were Irish jigs and reels. There were mandolins and guitars. There were jam sessions after hours, young people standing on the side, absorbing the music from their fathers and uncles and elders.

That was community.

Not only did they play instruments, they sang. And sang. And sang. Bluegrass, yes, but also Gospel. One man reported that his fifth grade teacher required the class members to recite a Bible verse and sing a solo every Monday morning. He claims he sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" until he wore it out.

There was no formal music teacher until the late sixties. Music instruction (as everything else) came from the classroom teacher or from a parent or from a child, favorite selections, the songs by Stephen Foster.

They shared a songbook:

One child took the book home and learned the songs on the piano, came back the next day and taught it to the class.


In the fifties and sixties those same young people branched out. Rock and Roll seeped in, bringing Elvis and his pelvis. The Beatles arrived, bringing long hair and a new beat. Their parents didn't understand the attraction. Wasn't the old music good enough?

The community changed. The world changed. So what if the music changed, too? The heart was still there expressed in new lyrics and strange rhythms and the brain was calmed, perked back up, energized.

That's what music does.

Catch of the day,


No comments:

Post a Comment