Music is a glue that holds all kinds of things together, from couples and families to nations, and beyond. I come from a musical family: Mother played the cello and the piano, learning piano first. Daddy played the piano and organ. During a period when I was still a young child, Mother had a job in the evening hours, so our father was left to both entertain and be entertained by us five children.
It was in those early years that we learned many rounds: step one in multi-part singing. Naturally Row Your Boat (gently down the stream) was the first of many rounds, followed by the Stephen Foster songs, many of which would be considered inappropriate today. Then came Burl Ives and Dorothy Shay, and later the Norman Luboff Choir and other choirs and choruses, and symphonies and requiums and concerti and you-name-it.
I still recall, with a certain bit of hurt, auditioning for a solo with my junior high music teacher, Miss Ruiz. The song was Basin Street Blues. My voice was not right for the music, either then or now. Mother had taught us basic stick-to-the-notes singing. I simply could not, and cannot (with whatever little voice I have left after nearly eight decades) swoop and scoop and do any of those “acrobatic” things with my voice that were and are called for in much music.
But I digress. The same Miss Ruiz was impressed by the classical music background we kids had received at home. Los Angeles school district didn’t come across many students, like the Foote children, who were routinely exposed to symphonies and opera.
We moved to Moab, and the same was true. Not much classical music on the scene. and Mother had kept bringing home trios for us girls to learn. We learned and sang around town for the Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Literary Club and the like. Our youngest sister, Brangwyn, was not considered by the other three of us to be all that mature. But when Ariel went away to college (the U. of U., I am a Utah mansir. Lack of space intended in “mansir”) Brang was right there to take Ariel’s place: she had learned all of the parts to all of the songs.
We continued singing together, but not so much in public, for many years, in fact until Andrea died untimely at the age of 54. And we still giggle at a point in “Bendemeer Stream” where the words and melody are “an essence that breathes (hold here) of it many a year” The giggling will ensue with the word “breathes” and at that point the song and singers disassemble.
My sisters and brother all learned to play the piano. Although I have one, I still don’t play.
However, while in college I took to taking night classes during the summer, which led me to a guitar class. It was taught by Pete Seeger and Rosalie Sorrells. My two younger siblings, Brant and Brangwyn, (who still play guitar, but I don’t) say that foray of mine led them into the guitar business.
So, as I said, music is a tie that binds.