Monday, December 28, 2009



Ever wonder how the New Year was set for January 1? Or maybe you already know, but just in case it has faded from your mind -

The celebration of the special day dates back to the days of emperors who thought a day should be set to end one year and begin another. First New Year celebrations were noted in Mesopotamia about 2000 years ago, but it was at the time of the Equinox in march. The calendar had only ten months. It was the second king of Rome who divided the year into 12 calendar months by adding January and February, and the New Year was shifted at January 1. Some Romans did not accept the new calendar, but Julius Ceasar officially declared January 1 as the New Year in 46. B.C. Thus the Julian Calendar. In the medieval period, pagans celebrated March 25th as the New Year; it was Annunciation Day, as the day Mary got the news that she should be impregnated. Later the King of England ensured that Jesus' birth December 25th should be commemorated as New Year. About 500 years later, Pope Gregory XIII abolished the old Julian calendar and introduced the Gregorian calendar which comprised of a leap year after every four years to maintain balance between seasons and calendar. Finally, in 1582, Gregorian calendar was set to celebrate New Year on January 1.
SO NOW YOU KNOW. But wait - I was going to tell you the history of resolutions. Well, maybe next week. You might want to check out "". I don't know if it actually gives the origin of the tradition, but I think it does give hints on good resolutions and how to keep them, or maybe it is a "tongue in cheek" piece. It may be a money scheme. Everyone needs to make a buck. I don't do resolutions anymore. With good intentions I used to think of two or three things that needed "fixing" and would resolve to do so. Within a few days or weeks at the most, I was back to my old habits. Making excuses for failure is tedious. I think the keeping the Christmas spirit all year long is probably the best anyone can do. So, I'll go with that for 2010, thank you, Charles Dickens for thinking of that one.

I can only think of two particular pieces of music for the New Year:
Auld Lang Syne and What Are You Doing New Years Eve. The internet has a list of newer pieces which are totally unfamiliar to me, as are the groups that perform them. I associate Guy Lombardo with Auld Lang Syne. For many years, going back to early TV transmission with a snowy screen, I watched Guy Lombardo and his band on New Year's Eve. Auld Lang Syne means "for past memories." So when we sing "We'll take a cup of kindness ...for auld lang syne" it means we will drink to past memories. It has a ring of sadness, to be sure.

There are a few winter songs: Sleigh Ride, Let It Snow, Let It Snow; Winter Wonderland; Baby It's Cold Outside; Winter Love; Snowbird; Simon and Garfunkle wrote Hazy Shade of Winter. There seem to be a number of new compositions by groups such as the Doors, Black Sabbath, The Cure, and others. There also seem to be several different songs named "Winter." I'll stick with the ones I am familiar with, but I will hunt for Hazy Shade of Winter because I like some of S & G music. If you have a winter song you like, please let me know. You can post a comment to this blog, or you can e-mail me directly at if that is easier for you. I think you do have to have a YAHOO password or something to post on the blog.

If you are not in the mood to play winter tunes while the snow is covering your driveway, and the icicles are hanging from your eaves, try playing "Hazy Lazy Days of Summer" ~ "Summertime" ~
"Summer In The City" ~ "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" ~ "Summer Samba"~"Heat Wave" - I'm sure you can think of others. The important thing is to

"Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Janice Major

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day ~ 2009

YES, IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY 2009! may yours be one of the best yet no matter how old you are.

I will have my family gathered here tomorrow. Everyone has places to go, people to see, and things to do. I don't mind waiting as long as more of us can be together. My grandson Daniel was born on the 27th, so it is good to get all the Christmas doings over so he can have his day. Of course, the two new babies are a bit young to travel, so their parents will be at home with them. We will miss them all.

I think Christmas Carols get a bit overdone especially since the commercial push begins shortly after Halloween. Yes, I did see Christmas promotions right after the ghosts fled into the daylight of November first. And then the "Grinches" come out to complain about the most widely accepted Christian holiday worldwide. I wonder how many of those grinches are the same ones who profit handsomely from the often wild spending of generous "believers."

One week recently I garbled the BLOG by hitting "wingdings" or something by mistake. Then last week I wrote a draft and never published it. What, you didn't notice or miss me? Oh, well. Unless you e-mail me with a "comment" or at I have no way of knowing that you even care. Boo-hoo.

We had a Christmas party at Starbird Music. It's a good thing we value people more than trappings because the company, while they allowed us the use of the concert hall, did not bother to put in a tree or decorate in any way except with a couple of wreaths. How different from a couple of years ago! The organs were positioned in their usual disarray, and the "tree" was an undecorated plastic "rubber tree." But the people, most of whom met to have lunch before hand at The Great Lost Bear, a nearby pub, were happy to be together and in a giving and forgiving frame of mind.

There was a gift exchange, and the request for a donation of non-perishable food items was generously fulfilled. Ron and Cookie Kalloch delivered the donations to the Ronald McDonald House food pantry. We have donated to them before. They always need "quick fix" and snack food for people who have uncertain schedules visiting with their sick children at the Maine Medical Center. A few people played Christmas carols but mostly they enjoyed the time to visit, reminisce and speculate on where the program will go in the coming months. I left a bit early as Nick Mammich was coming to my home to repair my Prestige organ. It has been on the disabled list off and on for the past few weeks. Still not repaired unfortunately. I expect early next week some new parts will come and Nick will successfully correct the problems. If you are ever in need of a keyboard or organ repair I recommend Nick. He is excellent.

The "students" who have been in the program for a long time are no longer getting lessons which discourages some people from continuing. The "critique class" in which the performer chooses a piece of music, hopefully something new, works on it, and then plays it for critiquing is just not "cutting it" for some members. The class leader, as Lowrey refers to them, is kind and gentle in her criticism. Most of the group feels it is a "feel good" class.
For myself, I hate to give up on the group so will continue to do what I can to keep it together. But I cannot honestly dispute the argument. John Nickerson's appearance for 1/2 hour between Performance and Class has been a saving grace. He knows organs and has the knowledge to move us along. The majority of the class would appreciate having him for a teacher but it has been made abundantly clear that is not an option. I personally like the teacher; she is a nice, earnest woman who, I think, came into the program at a tough time.

New rules for LIFE members make accruing points a little more restricted and more will be needed for rewards. Rewards have also changed somewhat. All happening in February, so if you have points to turn in, get it done. I have been wondering how long Lowrey would be able to keep up the "debit card" rewards. I would imagine that a new organ is not on the short list of anyone's budget. At one time it was said Lowrey Organ was the only company in the US working six days a week, two shifts to produce something which no one truly needed.
I hope they remain strong. Lowrey Organs are wonderful entertainment, and music is a great hobby as well as therapy for many ills including loneliness and the blues.

I was recently led to a web site of Germain Griggs, an entrepreneurial music teacher who has put his course on CD's. He has a lovely listening voice, but after listening to three of his lessons I don't know that I have learned anything. He encourages good practice habits and assures the listener that eventually you will be able to "play by ear" or at least recognize what chords go with what lead notes. It would be so great if Lowrey put out CD's specific to organ.
Especially for the larger more complicated organs which have USB sticks and disk recoders.
I can sit with my headphones on listening to Mr. Griggs and follow his suggestions, but it doesn't help me get from upper to lower manual with ease, or push buttons with confidence.
How about it, Lowrey Organ? Along with the book of instructions, let's have a CD which supplements it.

A couple of my favorite Christmas quotes:

"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a Merry Christmas." ~~ Peg Bracken

"Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone." ~~ Deborah Whipp

"I will keep Christmas in my heart, and try to honor it all year long." ~~ Dickens

Keep Christmas in your heart, along with beautiful music.