So many of my memories have always been intertwined with music, but it isn’t just simply about putting on a CD and having it transport me to another place in time. All of my personal and true musical memories, those that leave imprints on your heart and that you carry with you throughout life, have far deeper roots; listening to my father sing lullabies as he cuddled in bed with me whispering in a language that at the time seemed so foreign and surreal…..the hypnotic rhythms and sounds of the words lulling me to sleep; this music still evokes that same feeling within me.
Then there were those lazy summer camp afternoons where we would all gather after lunch and sing songs with counselors from around the world humming the different melodies in languages from far off countries such as Tanzania, India, Australia, and Brazil. At the time I knew little of this music, it was not just the songs that stuck out so keenly in my mind, it was the depth and feeling of expression that each song expressed. These were not trained performers within the vocal arts, but it didn’t matter in the least, it was the feelings that they evoked within me because their songs were true, real, and a part of who they were. These songs carried with them far off traditions passed down from generation to generation.
I remember a counselor from Africa who once stopped me with a wide grin when I passed his cabin and asked if I could serenade him and his troupe of young boys to the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” I couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old. What I remember so vividly is not so much my performance of this piece, but how his face lit up with an inner happiness that seemed to brighten up my world at that moment. I gave him a gift and he reciprocated one in return, that to me is music….giving/receiving…laughing/crying….showing a piece of your soul and letting it release…. the cycle of singing and the cycle of human emotion can’t be separated because singing is life.
This is what I strive to teach to each and every one of my students.