Everyone deserves music

January 29th, 2006

A memory came to me last night while I was sleeping. Actually, it didn’t come to me directly, but something about what I dreamt (which is a whole other story containing doors that lead nowhere in ancient mansions, university campuses and Hellens weak bladder) kick started the memory, and I woke up with it forefront in my mind.

I always thought my first music memory was The Beatles – me at age 5 listening to Sergeant Peppers with headphones on in the lounge room of the old house in Coleman Street. Sitting there cross-legged, picking at the threadbare, fraying carpet while I immersed myself into Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Turns out it might not be the earliest, although I think this new memory might be around the same timeframe. I can’t be sure.

I had possibly the best kindergarten teacher ever. Her name was Mrs Tutty (could there BE a better name for a kindergarten teacher?) and she was motherly, creative and patient and had a pink, frilled umbrella with polka dots. Actually, all four of us had her in kindergarten, and amazingly enough Mum bumped into her a few months ago in Wagga and she remembered every one of our names.

Anyway, she knew how to play the piano and one or two days a week we would have music afternoons where she would play for us and we would sing. One afternoon though, instead of playing the piano, she bought in a record from home. It was the soundtrack to the musical Peter and the Wolf.

Before she put the record on for us, she told us the story of a boy who was chased through the woods by a wolf. She didn’t just tell it though, she put us there. She told us how the wolf was chasing the boy because he had saved a duck from being eaten and he wanted revenge. The boy was chased through a dark, dark wood and had to make it through the wood to the other side and to his grandfather’s house, which meant safety. Part of the way into the wood the wolf caught hold of the boy, and for a second everything seemed doomed. But then, he managed to get away and eventually made it to the other side.

Then she put the record on. It was amazing – the story became the music and the music became the story. The impending dread of the creepy woodwind at the beginning, when the boy saved the duck, then the frantic, increasingly fast bah bah bah of the strings for when the wolf was chasing the boy through the wood. Then, a massive crescendo of symbols and brass when the wolf catches hold of the boy, and then more crazy bah bah bah strings when he runs again. Then, the glorious happiness of the full orchestra when the boy makes it to the other side and the safety of his grand father.

I was so affected by it, and actually quite terrified while I was listening to the boy running through the wood away from that wolf. And I wasn’t the only one – I remember the whole class being speechless at the end.

I want to forever thank her for giving me that experience. For helping me realise that music was more than a bass beat and a catchy melody. It evokes emotion and it tells a story, and it means something different to every person listening to it. I feel so bad for people who don’t get that, and it makes me more and more frustrated about the homogenisation of the music industry and shows like Australian Idol that just exacerbate the ignorance. But that’s another rant for another night I think.

And tomorrow night I will post about Jack and Meg and my Australia Day. Writing it here might ensure it will happen.


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