Have you ever heard a favorite song playing and, taking advice from Ronnie Van Zant, went ahead and just “turned it up?”
Of course you have. Everybody has.
Right now, in the back of my mind, I’m hearing the guitar intro to “Sweet Child O’Mine.” I may or may not play a little air guitar.
Or maybe it’s complex lyrics from “Into the Woods”, arguably Sondheim at his best.
Oh wait, wait, wait… the tag for “When I see an Elephant Fly” by Vocal Spectrum. (See on YouTube) My advice, take a very deep breath and try to hold on.
My point is this… for all of these things is that music in any category has the power to take you to a different place in seconds. Most of us will never play like Clapton, sing like Steve Perry, or write like anyone on the long list of geniuses whose name is permanently attached to a piece of music.
But all of us, for that brief moment, were inspired by the music. Inspired to sing, inspired to share with our friends.
And yes, inspired to play some air guitar. Or drums.
Or try to hold that note. Seriously, try it.
This year, the National Federation of Music has set aside May 1-8 as National Music Week. This year’s theme is “Music…Inspires”.
This year’s theme is both incredibly broad and yet oddly narrow.
On the one hand, music is, for almost everyone, our first link to communication. Your mother sang for you, you sing for your children…they will probably sing the same songs to their children one day. This is how we start connecting.
Somewhere along the way, many forget, or at least lose track of that connection. It never, ever goes away, but like your biceps or your memory, the music gene requires exercise.
This is why it is so important that children have the opportunity to play and sing and that they are encouraged to continue. A life with music running through it as its main artery is uplifting.
A story, if you will.
When I was a freshman in high school, my late mother decreed that if I felt like going out for football, I could also sing in the high school choir. I had played coronet in grade school, so had a passing knowledge of music, and had found my parents’ All-State Chorus records in the deep recesses of our old stereo and listened to them several time.
So, reluctantly, I joined the choir. There were seven boys in the entire high school choir that year (I was the only football player) and about 30 girls. We were vastly outnumbered. But our director picked a fun song for us boys to sing at a regional music contest – it was six parts and frankly, we killed it. We were great. It was the year I discovered the beauty of harmony and how not singing the melody was MUCH more fun.
Fast forward to my senior year. There were 28 boys who showed up for the choir this fall, 17 of us were also on the football team. Everything our principal sold was bought in large quantities and we had one of the largest groups in the competition that year of any school in our area. We shook.
I never played football again after high school, but until a few years ago when I stopped actively using my vocal chords, I could handle almost any tenor section of a choral. The love and appreciation never waned, though.
Through various iterations of mixed ensembles or choirs, barbershop choirs as well as musical theatre, a love of music was cultivated in me by people doing it for fun.
Without a doubt, singing in church choirs was the absolute best. Great choir members, the best directors and honestly some of the most beautiful choral music ever written all add up to a wonderful memory.
It might not be the inspiration to write something as devilishly perfect as a musical, or the inspiration to write the next radio hit, but music inspires people every day and improves their life.
This chance to allow inspiration to strike at the precise moment when it is most needed should be able to grow and flourish in everyone.
So play rock and roll, listen to a glorious choral work or maybe some Mozart or Tchaikovsky. To be inspired.
And above all, pass it on and encourage the next generation.