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A Little Mountain Music

A Little Mountain Music

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 One autumn Saturday night a few years ago a dinner guest sat down at our piano and began picking out a tune from one of the songbooks he had found in the bench.  We were between dinner and dessert, and, as I was loading, the Big Guy pulled out his guitar and pulled up a chair by the piano.  The two moms finished putting away food and dishes and joined the musicians in the alcove near the kitchen, and we played and sang until all of our kids were passed out on the couch nearby.

It was the most action that piano had seen in months, and it was to be the beginning of a change in perspective for it and all of us.

Shortly after that night we began rearranging cabinets and furniture in our kitchen/living area with the hope that we would be putting the finishing touches on a house we had built five years earlier.  Our breakfast table changed spots five times.  I rearranged cabinets and tag sale buffets in every possible combination, trying to make the most efficient use of space.  And, in all of my arrangements, our piano occupied a new, more prominent position in the center of the living area.

We had several dinners with the same couple – our kids are all in the same age range – and, after solving the world’s problems over meals of varying formality, we continually ended up at the piano, looking through the songbooks for something easy to play and familiar enough for all of us to sing most of the words.  We never planned these music nights, until a few weeks ago.

We had spent the day managing a multi-family tag sale, and everyone – including the kids – was exhausted.  Somehow, however, we found ourself gravitating to the piano once again, and it was then that we noticed that one of our younger guests had brought a trumpet.  People started to perk up.  Thing1 got his guitar out.  Thing 2 found a recorder (a dubious blessing most nights).   And it started to dawn on us that music night was now an actual tradition.  We said goodnight with plans to do it again, sooner this time.

Now, the Rolling Stones and the Carters have nothing to fear from our little improv group – most nights we’re picking through tunes note by note (although we had started picking songs ahead of time).   But when we’re crooning and carrying on, I often think the critics and crepehangers of the world should be shaking in their boots.

Surrounded, as we all are, by a cacophony of can’t, it is easy to assume that not only shouldn’t we congregate and question and discover but that even the trying is beyond us.  But when we do try, not only do we discover that we are capable of entertaining ourselves without direction from the arbiters of trend.  We find that, as Cat Stevens once wrote, we can sing out if we want to.  And when we do, we make ourselves free – at least in a small way.