My Musical Family

MusicArea

Any house of mine has to have a space for music. Come to think of it, our apartment isn’t big enough to have a dedicated space, though there are instruments scattered throughout. I guess I mean to say that any dream house of mine has to have a space for music. That’s what my dollhouse is – a dream house. It’s a place where I’m free to experiment with colors, ideas, memories and design and a place where I can express my true self. Music is one of those expressions and that’s why there’s a space in my dollhouse dining room for performing. When looking at pictures of colonial homes of the past, many had areas for music; a piano or a violin. I imagine that the dollhouse’s inhabitants (of old or new) play music on occasion, for themselves or guests, or relax listening to others play. I think my dollhouse needs more instruments than what I have here. Music has been so important in my family.

On my mom’s side of the family, my great-great uncle, Jay Gould, was a jeweler and played music in Glencoe, MN. He eventually started a family circus, traveling the midwest as Jay Gould’s Million Dollar Circus. He was quite the showman. I don’t think my own great-grandfather, his brother, Howard, played any music, nor my grandmother, but my mom did grow up playing the flute. I’m not sure about the ancestors on my dad’s side. My dad used to play the guitar and sing while I was growing up. He indulged our many requests to play “Here Comes the Sun” and dabbled with writing his own songs. My brother, Robert, also learned to play guitar and sing and has added harmonica, and several other instruments. I’ve even seen him stick a shaker between his toes, have the harmonica around his neck, the guitar in his hands and sing. A real one man band. He’s a great artist, musically and otherwise. My husband, Steven, also an amazing artist, plays drums and guitar, and my son, at 7 years old, has a natural gift for the drums too.

I only played the trombone in school band growing up. I never really considered myself musical. That attribute belonged to my various family members. I did perform in musical theater every year at my high school, but never had a leading role. I just figured a strong voice and musical talent weren’t my gifts. In the last few years, I’ve joined our church choir and have learned that, with a little practice and experience, my voice isn’t so bad! I’ve even sung some solos. I’m always nervous when I’m up in front by myself, but it’s so fun too. Who knew – both that I could sing and that I liked it?

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The three of us, post performance

This past Christmas, our friend, Jon, asked me to sing one of the German Christmas carols I knew at our children’s school Holiday Sing-a-long. He played guitar and I sang the solo in front of the other parents and children. A parent who was organizing the school fundraiser this spring, asked if we could perform five songs as part of the live musical entertainment for the fundraiser. We said yes and started working on some music we both liked. My husband joined in on drums, and we came up with the band name, “Dough-Ray-Me.” We had a great evening (despite my mess up of a few lyrics and trouble with the sound system). We did “You Belong to Me” by the Duprees, “Walkin’ After Midnight” by Patsy Cline, “Do-Re-Mi” by Woody Guthrie, “I’ll Fly Away” (an old gospel tune), and “Oh Lonesome Me” by Don Gibson, all good vintage tunes. I even pulled out my trombone and played a solo in the last song.

Some of my favorite family memories have involved music. Putting on a “concert” with my brother and cousins (Mary, Megan and Joey) for our parents. My “big” cousin, Megan (in front of the microphone), turned 40 today! Happy Birthday Megan! Another great memory was going to visit my brother with my husband, before we married, and jamming, all of us together, along with my cousin, Adam, a great violin player (and apparently the mandolin too). I miss my family, living out here in California, and wish we lived close so we could raise our kids together, play music in the evenings or weekends, and just be there for one another. My husband, son, and I have had to create our “family” here and now we’re making great memories playing music with our friends and their son.  It’s fun to be part of a musical family!

2 thoughts on “My Musical Family

  1. Loved the story, but I have a correction for you about your grandfather, Howard.  He was a real musician!  He played piano (which was always in their living room.)  He was a drummer in a band back in the 30’s I believe, and also played a pretty good accordian.  Back in the 30’s or 40’s family story is he played with Lawrence Welk in North Dakota before Welk had his television show.   I have a photograph in a dresser (which I can’t get to right now)  with grandpa’s band.  When we move to the farm, I can get to the dresser and get a copy for you.  I don’t know who got grandpa’s accordian but for some reason he also had a student accordian which is now in my possession. So what do you think of that? Love, Mom 

  2. Thanks Mom! I wondered about that. Now that you mention it, I remember they had a lot of instruments that were passed down into the family – just wasn’t sure where they came from and didn’t know any of them had played. Did he meet Lawrence Welk while Lawrence was in the Goulds’ Circus?

    I have a correction for you though – Howard was YOUR grandfather, my great-grandfather! 🙂

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