I remember being in fourth grade, bubbling with excitement as I looked at the list of possible instruments to choose from to play in school. I had my heart set on playing the flute, however my mother insisted I put the French horn as a second option. With an annoyed and disappointed “okay”, I checked off the box that said “French horn” and handed in my slip to the music teacher. When the day came to finally choose our instruments, I stomped into the music teacher’s room. “I want to play the flute,” I proclaimed, and at the time, I thought that if I didn’t play flute it would be the end of the world. The teacher handed me the hollow, silver flute, the coolness of the metal made me shiver. I put my lips to the instruments and blew, but the sound was horrendous, I was clearly not going to be playing the flute. “Here, try this!” the teacher said and handed me a French horn. The bulky, brass, horn was almost as big as I was and I looked at it with a disgusted face. However, this time when I put my lips to the instrument, a sweet, clear tone rang throughout the room. I may not have chosen the french horn, but it chose me, and the places it has taken me are impossible to describe. I have played in all-county, all-state, and all-district festivals, performed with the “Macy’s Great American Marching Band” and will play in the All-Eastern Conference in April.
Take a moment to let us know your favorite music gifting memory. Then read what others have said ... the stories here are truly inspiring.
Anybody could have predicted I’d be trouble at age four, when my grandmother encouraged me to dance to her collection of Tom Jones records. I thought “What’s New Pussycat?” was about literal cats. The first record I bought myself — with loose change from going easy on school lunches — was a used and forgotten concept album by Randy Vanwarmer. He’s best known for one soft pop disco-era hit, but Van Warmer also put together a dark, funny, complex album with themes related to the future of humankind and somehow managed not to be terribly pretentious about it. Although I listened to radio then and still do, that “find” taught me to dig a little beyond the hits for more obscure stuff and has something to do with why my must-have stop in every city I visit is the “local artists” bin of the music shop.
When I was a freshman in high school, my dad purchased Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on CD. I was already a Beatles fan, but I hadn’t heard Sgt. Pepper’s yet. I fell in love from the first listen. From then on my friends and I would listen to that CD over and over during our carpool to school, singing along and gushing over our favorite Beatle. I’ll never forget the memories we made.
The summer of 1982 holds one of my favorite music memories. Growing up in a very conservative home, very little music was allowed – especially Rock ‘n Roll. I took every opportunity possible to visit aunts, uncles and friends so I could digest the music they listened to. However, the summer of ’82 changed everything. Our family descended on the shores of Lake Shasta for summer vacation. My grandma brought her boom box that had both cassette and 8-track players built in. My uncles showed up with all their cool 8-track tapes and I got to play DJ. The Foreigner Four album had been out almost a year and we must have blasted “Juke Box Hero” a hundred times that vacation. Shortly after that vacation I got my own radio and it transported me to another world where music reigned supreme and I could listen to anything and everything I wanted!
My first gift of music was my first session in a recording studio where I realized music is almost as cool as skiing. At times it puts you in moments where you feel like you can do anything you want.
The year was 1964 and it was Saturday. That was the day of the week when my mom packed my four brothers and sisters and me into the station wagon to drive over to my aunt’s house for a day “with the cousins”. Within minutes of arriving, ‘the kids’ headed downstairs to the basement where the record player and the stack of vinyl 45s were stacked. From then on it was ‘Beatle-mania,’ where all nine of us sang and danced up a storm to each Beatle’s hit. Music has filled my life ever since.
Music is such a huge part of my life even though I have no musical talent. I’m not a singer or an entertainer. I am, however, a huge fan of music. I will never forget a certain concert that I went to a few years back, which was Bon Jovi. Listening to Bon Jovi CDs or watching performances on TV is nothing compared to seeing them live in concert. The music and energy from JBJ made it a night I will never forget. It truly made me appreciate music even that much more. The talent, dedication, and hardwork that Bon Jovi puts into their music is unreal, and it truly showed that night. That night made me realize that they are truly legends in rock music for a reason. They have been around for quite some time, and will certainly be around for years to come. Bon Jovi is an example of just one of several talented musicians that I love.
When I was younger, every summer I had the fortune of attending a week-long, church camp called Camp Krislund. Every evening we would sit around the bonfire, the counselors would play their guitars and we’d sing some really great songs. I always loved one called ‘Pass It On.’ My husband and I used the song as part of our wedding ceremony and my father-in-law was so moved by the words that he incorporated it into his toast at our reception. Years later, when we brought our daughter home from the hospital for the first time, we tried everything to get her to settle. As I ran out of songs to sing, I turned to my old stand-by. Who knew that ‘Pass It On’ would settle a crying baby? I still sing it to her every night before bed.
I remember I was so disappointed that I missed out on a New Kids on the Block concert. I was bummed for weeks, especially since everyone in my class would talk only about the concert. My mom came home one afternoon with Color Me Badd tickets and took me to the concert. She even bought me a t-shirt. It was my very first concert and, to me, it was even better than seeing New Kids on the Block since it was a surprise from my mom.
I have always loved the music my mother would play when I was a kid (Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, Mamas and the Papas, et. al.) and wanted to pass that on to my kids. My daughter loves most of the music that I play, but we both share a fondness for Blue October. They came to town 3 years ago and I quickly purchased tickets for the family to go. When we got the tickets I surprised her. When she opened the gift, she immediately said “Where will we be sitting?” Since they were General Admission, I went online to bring up a seating chart only to discover that it was a 21 and over only venue. She was 12 at the time and was very disappointed when I told her. The following year ,Blue October toured again. I purchased tickets only to find out that 2 weeks prior to the concert date, they canceled the tour due to one of the performers becoming ill. Finally, this year I was able to get tickets, actually get her in the venue (it was open to all ages) and thoroughly enjoy each and every moment of my daughters first concert. I will always treasure being there for my daughter’s first concert and hope that she gets as much pleasure from music as I do.
When I was young I really wanted Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ albums for Easter instead of a basket full of candy. My parents kept telling me that the Easter Bunny would never be able to do this. Then, of course, on Easter morning I found those two albums in my basket. It was sweet! I still have both of those albums to this day.
When I was 5 years old, my grandmother gave me a glockenspeil. Have you ever seen one? It is a miniature xylophone that you hit with a mallet. I played that thing all day. It really taught me to appreciate sounds and pitch, even though I didn’t fully understand what I was appreciating until I was older.
The best music gift I ever received was my first drum practice pad. I was in 5th grade and had knew I wanted to play the drums since I was 5 years old. Once I knew the drum pad had been ordered, I roped off a section of my room and awaited its arrival. Getting the drum pad and learning music and how to become a musician was the greatest gift. It has definitely led me to where I am now and all of the instruments I can play.
I used to sing in the shower when I was in elementary school. My mother would shout through the door, ‘keep singing.’ I assumed she liked what she heard. Since it was the only place I really did any singing, and the shower was not a good gauge as most people sound fairly decent there, I didn’t think much of it. Then two events happened that changed my life. I made the high school jazz band as a saxophonist in my freshman year. The altos had to audition for the big winter concert solo. I was not the best player among the group, but I gave it my best. My best was not the best audition performance, but somehow I beat out the best, and performed my first major solo freshman year. I nailed it during the actual performance, and gained the respect of the entire school community for it. All because the director believed in me. I knew then that my life would be forever intertwined with music. During my senior year of high school, some time after I had stopped singing in the shower, someone suggested I try out for the school musical, ‘Godspell.’ I can’t remember why they suggested I go; I don’t even think they ever heard me sing. I decided to try-out and landed the lead-role of Jesus. This part had the most singing in the show, and I was really nervous because I had never did any singing publicly. But again, a teacher believed in my abilities and talents, and took a chance on me. The show was a big success, but more important it had awakened something in me that set my life on a new course. From that point I knew that I wanted to be a singer/entertainer. After college, acting lessons, voice lessons, songwriting, joining a church choir, and going back to my alma mater to direct several musicals, I finally went into the studio to record my first album last year. It is currently being mix/mastered, and I’m extremely proud of it.
Music has always been a special gift in my life – even my childhood. My mother used to sing around the house, her voice so beautifully in tune as she would sing along to the little white transistor radio, which my uncle had rigged up to a big stereo speaker. The sound was amazing! Mom would sing along and she created so many hopes and dreams for me. As a kid, I would try to sing like her, spending hours in front of that speaker, listening and praying that God would help me write beautiful music someday. It is always said, be careful for what you pray for, so as I grew up into my teens, I would sing in the church choir, and as often as I could, I would sing along to all songs on the radio including Motown, Old school R&B, and write poetry. I prayed someday I would find someone who could write music to my lyrics. Little did I know God does answer prayers. Four years ago I met my husband in Las Vegas as he was playing guitar on the lounge stage in one of the major casinos there. I was drawn to the music so magically, as if I had heard him play before. I became so mesmerized I had to sit down and listened to his performances. He noticed me and when he got his break he came to me and introduced himself to me. I was star struck. We started talking and to my amazement he said to me that he had prayed that morning for a lyricist to write words to his music. I could not believe it, I was the lyricist! The more we talked the more I fell in love with him and his music. Little did I know my lyrics would fit perfectly into songs he had composed years ago…even a text message containing a poem I had written for him, he had composed music to long ago. We eloped a year later in Vegas. As he played one of our songs during our wedding, I knew it was meant to be. Soon after the wedding I gave my mom one of his CD’s. She too was mesmerized. My husband is my answered prayer, and my mom my inspiration. As I hear our music come to life now in our house, through the chords and melodies of his guitar and speaker, I can’t help but sing along…and cry. The lyricist and the musician. A mother and a daughter. Family. A perfect match made in heaven long before I ever envisioned it. Today I am so thankful to the gifts I have been given… love and music. Remember, God is listening, and as we dream…he dreams too!
When I was a child growing up in the 60s & 70s, my parents gave me a portable phonograph and two 45 records: The Mills Brothers – Paper Doll and Robert John – Lion Sleeps Tonight. That gift changed my life forever as it got me interested in not just music, but the aspects surrounding music. I became a musician myself, playing the trumpet throughout most of my time in school. I tinkered with vacuum tubes and electronics as a teen, worked part-time as a DJ in the 80′s for clubs, bars, and radio stations. I’ve met artists such as Don Henley, David Lee Roth, Katrina and the Waves, and others. I spent the 90′s installing audio systems in vehicles, and more recently have helped local musicians with arrangements, and other technical aspects. Regardless of where I am or what I do in my life, music has always been a part of it. I just never imagined that a portable phonograph at Christmas would one day help to define the person that I now am today.
My favorite music memory is of the 80s old school rap that was amazing. I loved listening to Run DMC, Doug E Fresh, Eric B and Rakim, Slick Rick, MC Shan, KRS 1, Whodini and Public Enemy. I would listen to the lyrics and try to write them down word for word. Rap music will never be like that again.
My music memory takes place when I was a young girl. I became connected with all types of music and artists from watching a TV show that aired the newest music videos from the popular artists and bands. I always watched this show to listen to music and it was very inspiring. I remember sitting on the couch and thinking to myself that no matter what, anyone’s dream can become a reality. I could see the love and passion that these musicians had for music and music really inspired me to have big dreams and that maybe one day, I will be able to accomplish and reach them. Music has helped me grow, given me strength, and it has saved my life. There are so many artists and bands that I respect and love and I am so proud of all of them. I will keep a positive attitude and focus on my goals because I want to reflect all of the artists that have made it big.
Many of my favorite memories involve music. Why? It must be a sensory thing. It makes everything around you a distinct moment, captured in your brain. Like a very short video clip. My favorite music memory is when my boyfriend held a Christmas party in his dorm room and after everyone was gone, sang a love song, accompanied by his guitar and his woo-ing friends upstairs, in a Christmas-lights decorated room. It was the most romantic experience of my life. I will never forget how his voice slightly trembled, but marched through the sweet, damp melodies of Etta James’ “At Last.”
One of my biggest memories is after I had my last son in 2009. I fell into postpartum depression and stress. My doctor prescribed medication for me, but I am not too big on taking medication. So, the night before Thanksgiving, I was at home with my three children (oldest was 4 and youngest a week old) and decided to put up our Christmas tree. I turned on the music channel on TV and I got into the mood. I felt like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Derise, you’re a strong woman and your children need you. You need to get out of that depression mode.” I got to feeling the music and moving fast while decorating the tree. I felt like listening to music and being with my children took a burden off my shoulder. I heard my oldest son say, “Look at mommy, she’s dancing and happy.” I can just play music around the house and get in a mood to do whatever. Music lifts my spirit up.