I recently attended a piano recital at the home of Ms. Judy Lies in Lake Hallie. Many of you know Judy, she serves as the organist at the Congregational Church on Third Street in Eau Claire. Judy also teaches a variety of students from a wide variety of ages and skill levels. Judy also accompanies students from local middle and high schools for the Wisconsin State Music Association Solo and Ensemble Contests.
The recital that night was an adult affair. It was also exclusively female. Oh yes, us men attended, but none of us were students. We were there in a supporting role. None of us approached the piano nor offered to play. I am sure that several of us were nervous for our spouses or significant others just like we would be for our kids or friends in such a situation.
The skill of the performers did vary, and some of the performers stumbled a bit. I know a couple students had wished that they had done a bit better in their own minds, but that was far and again outweighed by the joy and energy that went into the playing of the music itself.
Like speaking in front of class in school, many people have also escaped the childhood piano recital. That is what made this night special. The wish of adults to once again approach performing in public is admirable.
Keeping music alive and well in today’s society is a tough sell. When school budgets are cut, the music program is one of the first items on the chopping block. Schools sometimes defend music programs as providing discipline, boosting academics, providing the same positive reinforcement as the sports teams and being good for a variety of things that barely relate to music.
Music should not be compared to a sport. Unlike almost all sports, the intent of music is to last a lifetime. The intent of music is also to be heard by and performed in front of people. So while I appreciate a good football game — I can’t participate anymore — yet anytime I want I can get my clarinet out and play it. It takes a bit to get all the interactions between fingers, sound quality and dexterity together, but I can still do it.
Jerry Goetsch, musician, band leader and member of the Polka Music Hall of Fame, died a couple weeks ago. He was 85. While I am not the best fan of polka music, as a clarinet player I appreciate the work it takes to play in a polka band. Jerry was well known in the Wausau-Marshfield area and spent almost 45 years doing what he loved. He began his music career in a school band. We can’t let our kids and grandkids lose that opportunity.
While my tastes in music are probably not yours, I do appreciate the wide variety of musical experience to be had in the area. You can hear classical music performed at UW-Eau Claire and by several choral societies. There is a Chippewa Valley Gospel Choir and the new Eaux Claires Music Festival featuring music and visual art.
Then there is the Blue Ox Music Festival, featuring bluegrass and string instrument music, and rounding out the summer are Country Jam, Country Fest and Rock Fest. So there is plenty of music around to enjoy if we can only take a minute to enjoy it.
Each year area school bands, choirs and orchestras put on concerts that are quite amazing. The concerts are free or cost very little. For parents and grandparents it is just as important to attend your kids’ and grandkids’ concerts as it is a baseball or softball game. But I will also admit to you that I attended several of my daughter’s dance recitals out of a “Holy Day of Obligation” mentality. For those I admit to being a bad Dad.
What about you and music? What about you and the arts? Life is more than chores. I was reminded about that on a late May night in Lake Hallie. The joy of music was very much present that night and lately we need all the joy we can get.
The recital the other night was fun. It was an expression of life. Lately we could use more moments like that.