I am not musical. If you don’t believe me, read this, and re-live with me the devastation of being cut from choir at the young age of 10 (seriously, 10 in a public elementary school, it still seems unkind, I can’t imagine I was that bad, anyway how was I ever going to learn?). I survived it but I steered clear of music as much as I could.
Fast forward 15 years I found myself married to a professional singer-song writer (obviously I wasn’t as good at steering clear of music as I had thought). Music slowly began seeping its way into my life. I began singing along in church (though likely out of tune, I still can’t tell what is in tune and what isn’t), I would even clap my hands (though always off beat) and as I did some of my fears of making music began to fade.
Skip ahead 5 years to the birth of our daughter. We realized quickly that music soothed her and I wanted music to be part of her life. At least I wanted her to feel comfortable in the world of music that had felt foreign to me. I knew that the best thing I could do toward that end was to give her a mom who enjoyed music with her.
So in a timid voice I began singing lullabies at bedtime, silly songs at snack time and then old Girl Scout camp songs on long car rides (We have little Bunny FuFu mastered). We began listening to my old CD collection, (most of which I had gathered in high school and college) and bought a few musical sound tracks at the Good Will.
. . .
Now I couldn’t tell this story without sharing a book with you. The Trapp Family Singers, is the book that inspired The Sound of Music. Written by Maria Von Trapp herself, it tells the story of their family and their career in music (it is one of the most wholesome, light-hearted books I have read, though she goes into perhaps a bit too much detail on the Catholic mass for the average reader, for someone who writes on liturgical traditions I found it interesting and highly recommend it).
Though Maria doesn’t write any advice directly to her readers I walked away with a message,
“Keep music in your home, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t great, the music and the home will both be improved by having the other there.”
. . .
Right now in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group. We are reading, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. In it Shaeffer encourages us to be creative in our every day lives. She reminds us that having music in our homes allows us (a family, or any grouping of friends or roommates or whoever) to create, produce and enjoy something together. And while it sounds simple these are some of the deepest longings of our souls.
So with all that said, may I recommend to you an idea . . .
Family Music Night . . . inspired by The Von Trapp Family Singers, played out in all sorts of imperfection every week by the Jarretts.
On Saturday night (given we aren’t out of town) we do music as a family. Zenie looks forward to it all week. Michael plays guitar, which is a bonus, but you could do the same just by putting on a CD (or whatever gadget people are using to play music these days, I can’t keep up) and Zenie passes out her instruments. We sing a few songs (and maybe sometimes do a crazy dance).
Most often the whole thing lasts about 20 minutes until Zenie’s bed time. Some of her favorites are Hobo’s Lullaby by Woody Guthrie, and Mexican Home by John Prine, we mix in a couple of Michael’s originals and usually end on a hymn. On those nights she goes to bed with her eyes sparkling with excitement knowing she was just part of something special.
On nights when we have dinner guests we have everyone to join in (so if you come over on a Saturday make sure to bring your guitar or violin or whatever), which turns an average Saturday night into a fantastic house concert.
As we create, and produce and enjoy music together we also enjoy God and His creativity, His production and His Goodness and enjoy seeing Him at work in each one of us.
And that is what it means to live sacramentally.
Give it a try or let me know some other ways you incorporate music into your family life.
Thanks for being here.