For about twelve years - Yup! - twelve years, Thursday has been music day in my schedule. I have participated in classes and "playing for friends" almost without interruption. I began with a teacher who was new to the E-Z Play program but was totally dedicated to the Lowrey method. The "old folks" loved him. Then a new person came onto the scene. She was determined to take over the program and he left. She drove a lot of people out with her rude comments and over bearing manner - myself included. When she left, an energetic, enthusiastic Lowrey E-Z Play mentor came to the rescue of the program. He stayed for quite a while and the program grew with his enthusiasm, to over one hundred participants. He was willing to do whatever it took to keep new people coming in and the rest of us interested in staying with it.
Times change, people come and go in all businesses. The program has now dwindled to thirty (generously speaking) people who have been reluctant to give up. However, the time has come to look realistically at what is happening. More and more grumbling takes place weekly about the lack of interest from the dealer. Things are not the same. Every ten weeks the same questions come up: Who is continuing? Are you coming back? Are things going to get better?
NO, things are not the same. The group gathers from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 in the "playing for friends" time; the organ mentor comes in for only 1/2 hour to give us his tips on improving our skills; the head of the program comes in at 11:00 to "critique" music which we have worked on during the week. The "critique" is bland. IN MY OPINION, and I am not a trained musician, the problem is, she does not know the organ. She cannot make criticisms on an instrument she does not know. She can criticize fingering and timing. Her comments are always complimentary. Maybe she is too nice for the job. Personally, I really like her. I just am not getting anything out of my time in her "class." I know when I make mistakes. I make a lot of them. What I don't know is how I can improve my sounds, and make my music more interesting to listen to - and to play.
I have always said I would keep the group together as long as I am able. Well, maybe I am no longer able. I don't know. One thing I do know, it is not my responsibility to keep the program going. And THERE is the difference. The group can still stay together even if the program fails. We just have to find a way. SO, instead of complaining, let's start planning. The next gathering at my home in Scarborough is May 8th. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
Did you know there are a lot of songs written about Thursday? If you go to your search engine and type in "Songs about Thursday" you will find several sites with lists. I had no idea there were so many. I listened to a few of them and didn't find any of them worth downloading. Thursday is just a great day for making music, and I will always spend time on my organ on Thursday. IF you are inclined to write a song, please, write it on Thursday about Thursday.
The magazine "Making Music" has some tips on learning new pieces and some on organizing and making the most of practice time. If you don't subscribe to that magazine, check it out at the library. One minute practice tip: "To help memorization, take a song you enjoy and bracket off sections in order of difficulty. Try memorizing those parts and then put them together with out looking at the page."
Another hint from Making Music: If you are prone to cramping after long practice sessions, on when performing, try drinking a sports drink which has added electrolytes. Since dehydration is often the problem, stay away from colas, coffee and tea which are all diuretics.
Some time ago the editor of the SMAAA (Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging) agreed to write an article about the organ program and music's role in positive aging. She came to the studio and took some pictures which she tells me are great. But the article has never been written. Look for it in the May-June issue. I am working on making sure it will be there.
Some members of the program will be participating in the Kennebunk May Day Festival Saturday May 1. Thanks to Brian, if the weather is good, we ill have the use of his Legacy organ. It should be fun. It would be a good time to promote the program - if we were doing it with the backing of the dealer. Actually, we are doing this on our own. HOw can we possibly promote a program that no longer exists?
We have another event on May 29. Once again, and ideal time to promote the program - if only there was one. Oh, well. Better days are ahead. John, our mentor says it and he is an honest and optimistic man.
Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of USC's Brain and Creativity Inst., says listening to favorite music can stimulate the release of meural grown processes that invigorate and grow brain cells, which leads to keeping aging brains healthy, alery and strong against illness and injury."
SO - keep a song in your heart (and head) and keep the music playing.