Okay, sambear’s post got me to thinking…
I really like what Elise Witt says in her workshops about this business of how music is supposed to be, what’s good, who can make music, etc.
As recently as the 1920s and ’30s, it was absolutely normal for American families to have a piano and to gather around it to make music. Playing and singing well were valued, certainly—but not vital. Making the music together was the point. You know the opening to the TV show All in the Family? Yeah, people really did that.
As radio and then TV really permeated our lives more, we got less involved in providing our own entertainment and making our own music. We heard professionals with lots of training and the best equipment and lots of time to practice making music instead of doing it ourselves, and we got to thinking that their way was the “right” way to do it.
And we lost a lot because music was once something people owned, society owned, and now it’s something that’s produced, packaged and sold right there alongside the designer dresses and cars and such.
I was fortunate in that I grew up with an extended family that still gathered around a piano and made music together and in a church that emphasized music. I was in a church choir from the time I left the nursery ’til I left the church itself, and would still be involved if I were still part of that denomination. My mother insisted that all of her kids take at least a year of piano lessons, and I definitely appreciated them.
I want to get a piano—I haven’t had much access to one since I left my parents’ home. No, I don’t play as well as I did at one time—partially due to lack of practice, and partially due to a numb left hand. I figure I’d get a lot better with regular practice, though. I won’t ever be a pro, but I can get back to being “good enough.”