Musical Memoir

Ms. Folau

Music has played many roles in my life. It weaves through childhood memories that are familiar, religious, spiritual, recreational, and academic.

I held my Dad’s hand as we walked to church, his hip was just above my eye level. Singing made me happy, and “singing time” was my favorite part of church. I remember loving to sing with the old people too—more people meant more volume and I enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded by various singing voices—some stood out beautifully and others I would rather tune out—but the experience in its entirety somehow soothed me.

My parents’ critique became too familiar when practicing the piano. “Put some feeling in it”—was a common phrase I came to appreciate and despise. Though their critique was often harsh, it’s a fond memory when my Dad told me how he loved to hear me play after coming home from a hard day’s work. Though I was the performer and my parents were the spectators, it strengthened our relationship.

Growing up, music resounded as my siblings and I did our chores. We made a game of it to do lip syncs and dance offs. I loved our tape recorder, and unwound many tapes by repeatedly rewinding and playing them. There seemed to always be some kind of music playing at home or with family.

Our family road trips were accompanied by The Bee Gees, The Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire, and Elton John. I liked going on these long trips—it was a time to “meditate” the hours away while my Mom’s Dr. Hook CD played in the background. Music was always there.

In elementary school, I’d play the radio every night to fall asleep. I’d wake up randomly to a song I’d temporarily sing with (oh how I wish I could sing like Mariah Carey), then drift off to sleep again. Music provided the platform for childhood planned social endeavors. K-Ci and Jo Jo’s “All My Life”—this would definitely be my wedding song.

As a high school freshman, my soccer teammates and I bonded while jamming out to Madonna’s “Material Girl”, or Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair”. We felt empowered by those women. On September 9, 2001, images replayed over and over of the plane crashing through the World Trade Center. For a while afterward, I remember hearing often on the radio songs like, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, “I’m Proud to be an American”. It was comforting; music didn’t only unite me with people, but I felt more patriotic than ever. Music helped people through the harsh time and played an important role in soothing them from their pain.

As a senior, I decided I would study Piano Performance in college. In college, I had a love and hate relationship with music.  “Music” was either salvation or misery. With something I invested so much of myself in, it brought great satisfaction along with painful disappointment. As a student of and eventually a profession, music was overflowing my life, and I searched for expression outside of it.

Whether relaxing, stressful, necessary, unwelcome, meditative, spiritual, energizing, nostalgic, recreational, or entertaining, music, has always been there. Music is an important part of life. It helps everyone in different ways and speaks different messages to everyone. For me, it’s a continuing influence in my life, and is for many other people.