Mothers and Music Education: The Influence and the Impact
Mom. It's one little word, but such an enormous job. In celebration of mothers, we asked members of our Facebook page to tell us: "What impact did your mother have on your life in music?"
My mum had a beautiful soprano voice and I think she would have been famous had she not put her family ahead of her singing career.
Mum was always singing. She sang to me when I was still in her womb. Unborn babies can hear, you know.
But the most amazing time was during World War II. We had escaped from the Communist invasion of our country Estonia, and finished up in Germany right in the middle of the war there. We were refugees going from one hiding place to another trying to find food or a refugee camp—and then the sirens would sound.
Everyone rushed for the air raid shelters. Huddled in the dark cellars, we could hear the bombs exploding—some far, some overhead. Mum would wrap herself tightly round us two babies under a blanket. And then she would quietly sing to us and tell us fairy tales.
During one raid, the bombs were so close that people were screaming and hysterical and making a terrible racket. That’s when Mum lifted the cover of our blanket, and started to sing, first softly, then louder and louder, until everyone calmed down and the chaos and noise subsided.
"[My mother] rejoiced with us when we mastered new musical skills and encouraged us when our practice sessions were not going as well as we would have liked." -Anne M.
I was two at the time, so don’t know what she sang. Probably one of her Estonian songs, or something operatic. She had the most beautiful voice, which you could never tire of—even when she was practicing scales.
Later in my life she gave me singing lessons. She taught me how to relax my face. To demonstrate this, she would let me wobble her chin. It was like trying to wobble jelly—there was absolutely no resistance at all.
When I think of my mum, I think of music.
When I was very young, my mother would hold me in her arms and sing. Her mezzo-soprano voice had long been absent from the choirs of her own youth, but her children were all the inspiration that she needed to lose herself in song once again. We were her audience, smiling back at her as she sang what was in her heart.
I always enjoyed music classes growing up, but it was specifically at my mother's recommendation that I stepped beyond my comfort zone and began singing in an organized choir during my sophomore year of high school.
Three years of high school choirs transitioned fairly readily into four years of college singing. I had officially fallen in love with choral performance, a passion that seemed to consume so much of my free time beyond academia.
It has now been 12 years since college graduation, and my choral pursuits have only multiplied. Once my day job ends, my singing begins. Two full-time choirs one season. Three choirs and a board position the next. Performing on stage today and attending a concert tomorrow. CD projects, television, and radio appearances; movie roles; competitions; solos and duets; community outreach; collaborations; newsletters. Always doing something to remain engaged, educated, and inspired. Always singing.
For 20 years, my mom has supported and encouraged me. For 20 years, she has made the drive from her home in Michigan to wherever I am performing. For 20 years, she has
reinforced the promise that she made during my sophomore year of high school that singing is something that I would enjoy, something that would challenge and fulfill me in ways that only I would come to know.
My mother is now my audience, smiling proudly back at me as I sing what's in my heart.
|Homer and his mother, Winnie|
My mom was a natural-born singer. She did not take any lessons as a child, but she has a beautiful voice. Growing up, I remember wishing I could have a voice like she did. I wanted her vibrato! I was very young then, so I had a very straight tone.
I loved singing all the time. Whenever I was home, I would always sing. And always in full voice. I was always loud, and sometimes my dad and my brothers would complain. But my mom never complained.
In college, I wanted to take voice lessons. Paying for lessons wasn't really part of my parents' budget, but they found a way to do so. I would always be grateful to them for that.
My mom still sings. And I still sting. Sometimes we sing together.
I owe my singing, in large measure, to my mom.
She supported music lessons and came to my school concerts. Also, I could get out of washing the dishes after dinner if I was practicing piano!
We lived in in a fairly isolated location, a good half hour from Victoria, BC, and neither piano teachers nor money for lessons were in abundance. My mother found a teacher from Victoria, who agreed to come to our house once a week, offering half hour lesson to local aspiring pianists, from after school until evening. Mother registered the pupils, gave the teacher supper, and the teacher gave me free lessons. It was a win-win situation.
My mother sang in community choirs and took me to rehearsals and performances with her when I was just a toddler. I listened to the music and fell in love. By five years old, I was trying to play the piano and organ in our neighbors home, so much so that when we moved, they gave me the organ, just a little emenee organ. For my sixth birthday, I received a Baldwin spinet organ and organ lessons ensued. My mother drove me to every lesson, sometimes more than an hour each way as she searched for the right teachers for me.
As a senior at Westminster Choir College, I got my mom tickets to come to New York City to Alice Tully Hall and hear us perform with the NY Philharmonic. A single mother as my dad left when I was born, she bore the expense of organ and clarinet lessons for almost 20 years, even helping me with college. As I teach young musicians now, I know she is proud of the music she has instilled in me, she passed six years ago and I miss her so much, I can still hear her singing in my head.
The Saturday before she passed away she was watching a Lawrence Welk show re-run on Saturday night and began singing "How Great Thou Art" from the hospital bed in my home—brought tears to my eyes, as it still does today.
My mother insisted that I start piano lessons in spite of my own reluctance. If it wasn't for her I would never have started and probably not enjoy music participation as much as I do.
My mother inspired me to become the musician I am from birth. She put the love of God and family in my heart and surrounded me with love and musical experiences even when we had very little money.
|LeAnn and her mom|
She found a piano teacher that would give me lessons at the young age of four, and then had to work overtime to pay for the lessons and the music. She happily and willingly drove me 20 miles to lessons when I needed a more advanced teacher than my small town could supply. She never once doubted that I would be the first in my family to get a college degree and become a music teacher and continue as a church musician.
She gave up so much for me but always was positive and so excited by everything I did musically and she still is. She continues to attend as many of my events as a musician and director as possible and now goes to many of the grandchildrens' school musical performances, recitals, and college concerts. She tries to give me all the credit for passing on my love of music to my siblings and children but it is actually she who nurtured this musical seed inside me that now includes bringing music to senior citizens that are unable to go to concerts and church events.
I was born with a natural love of music but my mother instilled in me a drive for learning more, working hard, being the best musician I could be, and all the while making sure I kept my passion and love for music alive.
Growing up in a household with an orchestra director as a mother—not to mention a father who was a former musician, and an award-winning school music program to boot—it's not hard to imagine that I was involved in music as a kid. But I seemed destined to be a band kid, and interestingly enough it was my mother, the instrumentalist, who led me to make music with my voice.
The choir director at my middle school knew my mom well—in fact, she had the choir director's son in her orchestra. So instead of being anonymous, content with trombone but just as eager as all the other 11-year old boys to avoid singing at all costs, I was recruited to join the choir. My participation resulted from a path of least resistance as much as anything else. Turned out that since I liked music anyway, more of it every day wasn't so bad.
Then in high school, it was my mom who convinced me to add choir to my schedule. I was content to let it go. Besides, the only way to make room for it was to take an optional 7th hour, making for a more stressful daily grind. But my mom persuaded me to stay with it, insisting that I really wanted to continue being in choir. It was a good decision. Not only did I take trips to Prague and several statewide arts festivals by the time high school was over, but I haven't stopped singing since. There's no way music would be such a part of my life otherwise.
She also subjected herself to six years of trombone lessons, and paid for me to join groups, attend camps, and travel extensively. Not a bad contribution.
Thanks, Mom! Love you.
She sang and/or played music around the house almost constantly so it became a part of my being without my ever having to work at it. Best gift ever!
|Robin and her mother at the Grand Teton Music Festival|
She guided by example. #1) She sang to her five children while we were growing up. #2) She made time in her busy schedule for choir rehearsals. #3) She taught us rounds to sing in the car while traveling. #4) She taught me to sing "Cow Cow Boogie" so we could sing it together at her 60th birthday. #5) She accepted the invitation from my dad to be the female vocalist in his boogie-woogie band in high school, The 2 O'Clock Club. I wouldn't be here today if not for that!
My mother was my first music teacher. She gave me my first piano lessons and supported me when I pursued other instruments. She composed music just for pleasure.
I grew up in a very musical family. My father was a church organist and piano teacher. My three siblings and I grew up singing in school, church, and community choirs. We all played the piano, took voice lessons, and each played one other instrument. I played violin, my twin sister played viola, another sister played cello, and my brother played clarinet. Needless to say, it was a rare moment that music was not being made in our home.
My mother, although she sang to us when we were preschoolers, was not a singer and did not play an instrument. Yet she loved music and encouraged us to make our own music. She claimed, rightfully so, that “someone in the house needs to be the audience!” Her role as our audience was a very important one. She would always drop whatever she was doing to listen to us play. She rejoiced with us when we mastered new musical skills and encouraged us when our practice sessions were not going as well as we would have liked.
My mother chauffeured us to many lessons and rehearsals. She attended all of our performances. She scheduled the use of the two pianos in our home so that the five of us wanting to use them could each have the time we desired to practice, negotiating fights among my siblings and I over who got to play when! She even gave up sleep when one of us would continue to play beyond bedtime, allowing us to practice late into the night.
Right up until her final days on this earth, she attended concerts and performances in which her husband, children, and grandchildren performed. I believe that her spirit is still right here with us, encouraging our best efforts to make beautiful music.