Gaiety to Life

Mom was beautiful, not only because was my mommy. But because she was extremely elegant, in everything she did. With a very rare kind of charisma you found sometimes in some celebrities. The special way to enter a room, her impeccable outfits for any occasion, even gardening; the fantastic voice to address conversations, to give directions, to sing to us.

Her father loved to sing opera, and two of his daughters, my mom included, inherited his perfect pitch, intonation and volume. Mom sang lullabies for us at bedtime. It was special, because her voice was the warmest and happiest I heard in my early childhood. Sometimes the gift of a good voice is passed through generations without skipping. My sisters and I sing and it doesn’t matter how perfect or not our voices are, and that is because of Daddy.

Daddy plays; piano, accordion, and harmonica. His voice is the opposite of Mom’s, yet he sings for the pleasure of the moment.

As a little kid I was entitled to choose classes after school of any Art I wanted. My exploration was ample; I started with tap classes, then, I tried ballet and Spanish dances very unsuccessfully.

At 8 I started oil painting; it did not last. I stayed there a little longer because an old lady choose me to be the model of one of her works. I looked fabulous surrounded by flowers and sat on a swing she drew for the painting. Curiously, I recognized my face, my outfit, but not to be in that type of scenery. The swings I used were surrounded by pebbles, grass or sand depending on the park. The one we had at home was on cement and it was for toddlers, I had not used it for years, but my parents kept it for my little sister.

My older sister had chosen long time ago piano, and was ahead of me by at least 4 years. At last my mom asked me if I wanted to play the piano. The adventure of the piano was also short. I could tell all kind of grumpy teachers classes. In the  piano academy they had a choir. I loved it. We sang in several voices, a capella or with simple percussion instruments, or/and accompanied with a piano. Once  I was chosen to be a soloist for the performance of the end of the year. I felt like a star.  After a couple of years our choir teacher won a scholarship and the choir lessons were cancelled. 

While all those formal lessons crashed there were parallel musical events happening. Most Saturday mornings after breakfast we played records and danced in front of Mommy, it was really a cherished  and happy time. We all wanted her attention. The sounds were all type of music as long it was for dancing and singing. Some other times with me at the piano, we improvised with my cousins, a musical show. We laughed and have fun at large.

In my school, music was very important. For Mother’s day each class prepared a musical number with traditional dances and complicated outfits. Also, we had song contests every year, in my generation, my group always won; accompanied with several guitars, percussion instruments;  and sometimes with the accordion, my dad let me borrowed for the occasion. Our group practice at recess time, among us there was an incredible gifted girl, she composed all the winner songs. We had extra curricula activities like to be part of  the official  rondalla of the school. Rondalla is an ensemble of stringed instruments played with the plectrum or pick and generally known as plectrum instruments. It originated in Medieval Spain, especially in Catalonia, Aragon, Murcia, and Valencia. … The word rondalla is from the Spanish ronda, meaning “serenade.” There were also contests among the schools for the best group of serenade or Rondalla performance, creativity and outfit. I went to a private Catholic, all girls school; so, other important events, where music was a key ingredient, were the religious rites celebrated in the school , like Mass,  Pastorelas, (short plays about Christmas), and spiritual retreats, this last ones were the coolest because we were able to sing secular music around a fire pit accompanied always by guitars. All this was in elementary and middle school.

During high school I learned Hawaiian and Tahitian dances, picture a teenager learning to talk with her hands and have soft moves in one way and in the other to learn rapid hip-shaking motion to percussion accompaniment. We had musical parties every weekend. For some reason our neighbourhood had a lot of boys that belong to bands and we were invited to their performances or they were invited to our house. All years one of us was in the Quinceañeras age or the equivalent of Sweet sixteen. We were invited to all the parties from the school. All of us had a beautiful party with no less than 300 guests per event. Music and dancing was so enchantingly catchy!

My sisters, all of them have very consistent paths in Art. The eldest was also a young piano teacher after she finished all requirements. The one after me studied ballet all her childhood and half of her teen years. Ask me how she moves until now. She has always a gracious posture. She also played electric guitar. The youngest choose flute, and for a brief time accordion. We all learned to read music, and in different levels, Music theory.

When we were in our college years we spent the weekends with our parents and we went to all the concerts of the season on Sundays or Saturdays. We went to the theater and to the opera. Music was a way to rest from our studies; in Art we found solace to reenergize for the semester.

Years passed and music is in my family and in me. I have composed several lullabies, rewritten the ones Mom sang for us. I love my ukulele and harmonica lessons. I went to a class to learn about folk music around the world that was fascinating. I have traveled to many countries to listen to their music. There are many stories to tell, like what my children and grandchildren know about music and art in general, that is another universe to describe.

I found in Plato, the greek philosopher, many similarities in his thinking process and mine. In my youth I discovered, we concur exactly in one point; “Music is a moral law. It gives the soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

 

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