BellaOnline Literary Review
A Whale of a Tale by Kim Rumford

Non Fiction

A Musical Life

Anita Simpson

Music surrounded me from the time I was born, but I first became aware of it when I was three years old. That was when I fell in love with the soundtrack from The Sound of Music. I wanted to hear it all the time! My mother became so exasperated with putting the record on over and over that she showed me how to do it myself.

Of course, my small hands were not very coordinated, and when I was four the record had to be replaced because it was so scratched it was too uncomfortable to listen to it. It didn´t take long to get it replaced, because I was so insistent. I would not be happy unless I had it.

But to me it wasn´t just pleasant music. I absorbed the lyrics, and when I was five I started calling myself ´Maria.´ Even in kindergarten I refused to answer to my real name!

My parents had many other records, and when I was a little older I listened to them also. For example, we had a few recordings of the Smothers Brothers, one of which had a song with the lyrics ´hotcakes in cabbage juice.´ I demanded that we listen to that song every time we had pancakes!

Both my mom and dad played the radio in the car. My dad tended towards country and my mom towards rock, so I was exposed to a variety of music. My mom also sang in the church choir – she had gone to college on a voice scholarship – and I sang my first solo in church at six. That doesn´t imply I was good, but it does show that singing was something I took for granted.

My sister and I shared a full bed when we were young, and many nights I would say “Let´s sing Do-Re-Mi!” or something else that we both knew. We would start singing, and inevitably that would lead to giggling because we were meant to be asleep. With all the giggling and singing, we couldn´t escape our mom´s hearing. She told us to stop, but we just sang more quietly until we forgot ourselves and became loud enough again, so loud that Mom would pull out the Big Threat: “Girls, if you don´t stop singing and go to sleep, I´ll have to separate you.”

That shut us up very quickly!

My sister and I presented a Christmas show every year; it usually consisted of Christmas songs, both hymns and secular, along with extremely corny jokes and puns. For example, a commercial at that time used the carol “Deck the Halls” to remind people to mail packages before the Christmas rush, so we sang, ´Tis the season to mail early!´

Music has served me well in my life. Not only has it provided me much pleasure, but it has also helped me through the bad times. When I became depressed and anxious in 4th grade, I could always count on my favorite songs to cheer me up. When my parents divorced, I listened to the radio and records almost all the time, since they allowed me to escape from the reality that was painful.

Starting in seventh grade I played the cello (very badly). I lacked talent but perhaps more importantly, I lacked the motivation to practice. Learning piano interested me a great deal more, and when I finally got an old piano, I began teaching myself to play. Finally, at age fifteen, I learned to play trombone in the high school band.

In college I took unnecessary music lessons (my major was in the sciences) and therefore became eligible to join Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity for women. It was more like an honor society than a fraternity or sorority. But it proclaimed my love of music, and that was what made it worthwhile to me.

Almost twenty five years have passed since my college days. I no longer play an instrument, and it´s been quite a while since I sang in church. I still sing with the radio, however, and music still holds a special place in my heart. I listen to a variety everyday – some country, some alternative, more pop and rock, from all the decades of my life. When for some reason I cannot listen to music, my life seems half gone.

I hope I never lose my hearing.

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Fall Equinox 2011 Table of Contents