As much as my hands are a manifestation of God’s providence, music is a manifestation of God’s grace filling my soul.
I love music, all music. I always have. I remember being 4 or 5 years old with a tiny keyboard picking out a musical run I’d heard in my head, perhaps from a commercial or something. I played that handful of notes over and over again asking my mom if she recognized it. She never did, but I loved those notes. To this day I don’t know what they’re from, but I could probably recall them with enough focus.
When I was in 5th grade I begged to be in band. My options as tested by the instructor were flute or trombone. My parents decided of the 2, flute was ok. They rented me one with a disclaimer. I could earn the ability to remain in band, and possibly a new flute of my own, if I could play 3 songs well by Christmas. I could play about 6 songs well and a few others ok by Christmas. Their reward was a beginner’s level flute.
2 years later I began piano lessons. A year after that, earning my own upright Baldwin spinnet piano.
I had discovered that not only was music an excellent escape from bullying, it was also a feel good use of my time. I spent hours and hours practicing because I could be alone, and every song I perfected made me feel really good about myself.
I also began to feel the music. It didn’t matter if I was playing it or hearing it, the music would resonate with my being in a way I have trouble explaining. I love to feel the rhythm of a piece, it resonates with my heart strongly. When I really get into music my body literally moves to the music, sometimes very subtly and gently, and sometimes very big and excitedly. Usually depending on where I’m at or what I’m doing.
Music is something I don’t have to think about. By the time I was in high-school, I was learning whatever instrument Mr. Franz, my band teacher, needed filled. Regularly competing and receiving high marks for my performances. I learned Piccolo, Oboe, Bassoon, Saxophone (tenor was preferred, but I could play alto too), Clarinet, and Bells. I later learned on my own for fun to play Djembe drum and harp.
I played solos and in duets, trios, and quintets. I loved music, all music, and even with hours and hours of practicing, I couldn’t get enough and would listen to a wide variety of music when not playing.
This continued on into college, first year I majored in music with Flute as my focus. I played bassoon for the orchestra and piano as an extra studio instrument.
Then Aural Skills took it’s toll. One dreaded class, that was essentially learning to sing without accompaniment. I devoted ALL of my practice time (8 to 10 hours a day, several days a week) to trying to pass that class. Apparently all of my musical skills, and none applied to my voice. I barely squeaked by (pun intended), and that was with a very generous professor that did his best to help me every way possible. Unfortunately, it was required to pass 2 years worth to graduate with a BA in Music. So that’s when my music career ended and my art career began.
Yet, to this day I still love music. I listen to music more hours of my days than not. I even sleep to music. Nathan and I have a combined music collection of approximately 67 gigs, of which I’ve listened to most of it many times over. I have an additional few dozen CD’ s that have yet to be converted to digital files. We literally could listen to music non-stop for over a month. My spa friendly collection alone is nearly 3 days worth of music- I know because I used to have it on repeat in my office, and it took about 3 days to cycle back through.
If that’s not enough, I’ve paid for ad free listening on Pandora & I’ve downloaded several new albums through my Google play account. I own a small fortune in music because it’s that important and influential to me.
I sleep usually to my spa friendly music or mantras. If I were to note the most preferred it would include: Enya, Lorenna Mckennitt, Enigma, David Lanz, James Galway, Zamphier, Richard Clayderman, Liquid Mind, Deva Premal, Snatam Kaur, Bethoven, Bach, Brahms, and the Pure Moods compilations, just to name a few.
During waking hours my music preferences are so diverse that I tend to choose based on my mood. This is mainly due to my ability to feel the music, but also because there’s just so darn much to choose from.
There are 2 exceptions to my liking of all music: really old country music like Patsy Cline, & traditional Gospel like the Gaither family. I will tolerate those if someone else is playing them, but my father ruined enjoyment of them.
So then mood based listening. What does that look like?
Well if I’m down I reach up, but can usually only reach so far. So depression leads to angry music. My favorite “angry” music bands are: Hypnogaja, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Apollo 440, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphey, Black Flag & Black 47, and similar artists.
If I’m looking for upbeat, fast music (I use for exercising) some of those same bands apply (I really like Devil’s Dance Floor by Flogging Molly as part of my workout), but I can also add in: Kongos, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, Less Than Jake, Sublime, Imagine Dragons, No Doubt, the Skatallites, and a whole slew of 80’s one hit wonders, or current pop hits.
If I’m looking for mellow-jazzy-love music: Norah Jones (my go to girl), Adelle, Dido, Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Alice Coltrane usually make the list.
If I’m wanting to groove (dance) I usually then have to ask myself: new or old or traditional?
If the answer is old, we’re talking: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Parker, or similar.
If the answer is new, I’m usually referencing EDM. Though I’ve never been to a rave or an EDM event of any kind, I love to move to electronic music. My all time favorite is Moby, with Apollo 440 close second. I like BT, David Guetta, Rob Dougan “Rob D”, Eiffel 65, Robert Miles, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, and Lindsey Stirling to name a few.
My ultimate favorite subset of EDM though is Fusion, the electronic music that blends old world ethnic sounds with current beats and electric influences. The artist(s) I’ve know the longest, which Nathan and I used for our wedding music 7 years ago, is Afro Celt Sound System. I absolutely adore their music, and highly recommend all their albums. Along those lines though is music from Beats Antique, Delhi 2 Dublin, Amethystium, Omar Faruk, Punjabi MC, Bally Sagoo, PBN, & many others. I often dance to music in this category in our livingroom, bumping my confidence and mood up significantly, while traumatizing Anya to no end. Insert maniacal laughter here!
So then, if my answer is traditional, I generally mean Irish Celtic music. I love dancing to that genre. For music like that, I love to see live performances. I’ve been to performances by Wylde Nept, Flannigan’s Right Hook, and The Elders, which I’ve walked away with albums from most of those performances. I also really like The Chieftains, Celtic Women, Clannad, The Dubliners, The Pogues, and as I mentioned earlier Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphy’s, and Black 47.
Finally there’s all my other music that sometimes will take me 20 minutes to decide what I actually want to listen to. Some of my all-time favorites are:
U2, Dave Matthews Band, Madonna, Green Day, Dido, Eurythmics/Annie Lennox, Nirvana, Dixie Chicks, Fleetwood Mac, America, Billy Joel, Nine Inch Nails, Sound Garden, Savage Garden, the Piano Guys, Kaleao, Daniel Ratliff & the Night Sweats, and many, many others.
As you can see, I love lots of music. I can honestly say I don’t think I’d survive life without it. It fills my soul with a many varied beautiful sound. I am grateful for the experience of being able to make music occasionally, but even more studio to be able to honor other musician’s skills and worldly contributions.
God(s) grant me the strength to keep going in this life, and keep my ears good to listen to the many varied beautiful musicians gracing our planet with their amazing music.