We all love music. For me it has been more than turning on the radio on the drive to work or sharing favorite songs with friends at gatherings and weddings. For me music is a tradition, a lifestyle, a way to convey feelings.
It has been my legacy.
I am a fourth-generation musician on my mother’s side. My training began, I guess, before birth, because I do not recall a day of not hearing music.
Classical is the first type I remember. Great-grandmother Winifred, who could read sheet music, would play her piano for hours. Great-grandfather Enoch played the violin, and the air was sweet with renditions of Beethoven.
I first sat at her old upright when I turned 5. She would let me hammer away at the keys, and from there my formal training began. To Gamma’s dismay I could never seem to understand all those notes in her lesson books.
“This is hopeless,” she commented. “You play by ear like Vivian, so keep doing that.”
My grandmother Vivian loved honky tonk music and would play at local taverns. She also played the accordion, as did my father, Frank, who was a polka fan. My mother, Bonita’s musical career was cut short when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before I was born. I never had the pleasure to hear her play.
Each family gathering was filled with variations of polka and honky tonk. There would be other musicians who would join in. Dad also played in a trio, and his band partners would stop over on occasion to practice new songs.
I got my first piano when I turned 13. It was a day I will never forget. I developed my own style, being raised during a diverse age of music, and was soon joining in at family and social gatherings.
Once the keyboard (a totally different instrument) was introduced, my music became mobile and I would travel with local artists to play in various jam sessions.
Once Dad passed away, his accordion sat idle. It was a larger model and difficult to handle, yet I managed to teach myself a song or two. Then Grandma Vivian passed on and her smaller Harmonium was given to me, which I would practice on quite often. My son, Nathan, is quite talented on his guitar, but had no interest in this instrument. (New generations, huh?)
I had to undergo surgery on my neck a few years back, which destroyed some nerves and created some atrophy I have not recovered from. Sadly, I decided it was time to part with the accordion and put it up for sale at market value. It never sold. Until driving by a house in town, I spotted a gentleman standing outside of his home playing an accordion.
I got out and asked him if he was interested in giving one a home and he was ecstatic at the small price I asked for it (his accordion was in rough shape). I am happy that the legacy will live on and this instrument is cherished and will be played instead of rotting away. “Dangerous Dano” played a song that brought a tear to my eye as I took his picture with Gamma’s Harmonium.
I can drive by his home and hear him play, and smile.
Lisa Pluth is an occasional contributor to Hometown Focus and lives in Chisholm, MN.