A House Filled with Music

We sat upstairs in their music room, snug on the loveseat with their sweet dog, listening. Our friends, Jona and David, had put together a jam session while we were there visiting. We had never heard anything like it, really. Music in the Muscle Shoals area is different than music here in the west. More depth. More soul. I can’t really explain it. Everyone took turns choosing a song, and the others would join in loud and clear. A member of the Pine Ridge boys, and the mentor of many of the musicians there, played the Dobro- an instrument we mistakenly thought was a steel guitar at first. The sounds of bluegrass and blues filled the space. Mandolin, base, keyboard, fiddle, harmonica, and guitars sang out along with beautiful voices. A talented musician by the name of Lisa Lambert, who could have been the next Miranda Lambert in my mind, her song writing and guitar playing as good as any I have heard before on the radio, mesmerized me. Doug and I love music and we were warm with contentment that night.

A few days later, the four of us went to dinner at a pub and there were some of the original Swampers playing out tunes to a raucous crowd. I joined the other middle-aged dancers between tables. feeling the music and taking it into my soul.

I began playing the piano when I was eight years old. My mother would play our old upright piano as we kids danced around the living room. I played for church and school events. I loved playing the piano and I did so through high school and a touch in college. But, I never had the drive to keep it up. I would play here and there- usually around Christmas- over the years. I always say I am not a natural. I have to sit down and relearn the whole dang thing every time I come back to it. It’s the same with my ukulele and guitar. My son taught himself to play eight or so instruments and can write and pick a ukulele like you have never seen. He just hears it. He gets very irritated when I say that I am not a natural. He says its an insult to say that about him because it diminishes the many years of hard work and practice he has put into his craft. “Do you even practice?!” he asks me. I shrug.

I have been newly inspired upon returning home from our amazing vacation and have been practicing every day. I typically can’t keep focused. I will wander off mid song to make a cup of tea. I will squint at the chords of the ukulele and go make a phone call. I don’t know how to fix the broken string on my guitar. I will not leave my house long enough to take a piano lesson, nor do I want to pay for them.

I have boldly stepped into the current century. I have apps. I am one of those who as a young adult never in my wildest dreams thought a telephone could be taken off a wall and put in one’s purse and work wherever one was! Don’t even get me started on the internet. Turns out there are apps that teach you to how to play music.

I am using up all my free trials and will eventually have to pay for the year’s lesson (considerably less than in-person lessons. I want to support, but that is too much money for us at the moment.), but in the meantime, I am having the time of life pounding out songs on my old upright piano and strumming songs on the ukulele. The format of the app (Simply Piano and Yousicion for the uke) makes it easy to keep my attention, challenges me, and makes it simple for me to relax and have fun playing music again.

We were sad when Andy moved out because he took the live music with him. It is so wonderful having a house filled with music again. I haven’t asked my husband what his thoughts are about my pounding on the piano…I’m simply having too much fun pretending to be a professional musician.


  1. I’m so glad you embraced our music and desire to play and sing your own. It’s one of the greatest joys in life.

  2. I am one who “straddles the fence” when it comes to playing by ear or from reading music. Either of those two camps seems to be afraid to venture into the other but it’s really not so dangerous as long as one doesn’t expect to be an expert the first day.

    The key to being a “natural” is to play with other real people. It’s not easy for a loner or analytical but it’s necessary.

    When you arrive here there will be many venues for participation at all levels of skill. You have sung karaoke; it’s just the same, but different! 😎. It only takes a little getting used to and not expecting to be the best on the first day.

    Looking forward to playing for you singing and with your keyboarding and uke play.

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