“Music is what feelings sound like .” I didn’t write that and I don’t know who did, but I certainly believe it. Music has, since I can remember, made my life richer but it wasn’t until I was 50 that I took the plunge. I don’t need to go into numerous enrichment details,but I will give one example. My older daughter was born with a passion for playing music. By the time she was five, she and her violin teacher would jam and play duets long after the allotted half hour lesson. I would sit on the steps, listening, and lose myself in their pure chemistry. My Feelings? joy, pride, amazement for her, and wistfulness for me because I wished I could express my feelings through music the way my five-year-old daughter could.
Life with two kids, five cats, a dog, a Victorian to restore, and a private practice pushed playing an instrument into the way, way background, but I knew even then which instrument I would learn to play someday. Every time I heard a mandolin tune or the Viennese Mandolin Orchestra or for that matter anything mandolin on the radio, it got my attention. Reischman, Grisman and Bush became my musical heros. Then came the big 5O, and for the first time–ever–I violated our unspoken birthday tradition of never asking for a specific gift. I named it loudly and clearly. I wanted a mandolin and I wanted lessons. My goal was never to spend countless hours in a practice room so I could express my artistic vision with skill, beauty and finesse. I just wanted to learn to play well enough to feel the joy of making music and oh my gosh, how lucky am I. I did it. I play bluegrass and love doing it. I don’t care if almost every song has lonesome whistles blowing through the hills of old Kentucky. That’s not what it’s about for me. It is about sitting with friends picking or standing in a circle making friends by playing old tunes. It’s about my mandolin and me. I can escape for hours in the waterfall runs and bits of cross picking in Grey Eagle. I love playing a song I know so well I don’t even have to think and the tune appears. I have crossed off my bucket list playing a family violin/mandolin duet, and anytime I want, my Gibson comes off the wall and I can get lost in the feel of music.