Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Steuben Strummers!

 Today let’s chat about music. Oh, not about just listening to music, although that is great too! In fact, currently Pandora is sharing Halloween songs with me on this cozy Monday morning with a small fire sending warmth into every small nook and cranny. I want to talk about playing music.

In the long history of my family, at least as far as I can tell, no one was exceptionally musical. However, I guess I need to retract that statement. My dad played the piano. He learned to play as a young child when he lived with his grandparents during the depression. His grandmother played the pump organ for her church. She taught my dad to play a few songs so he could also play in church. He was only four years old, but sitting on her lap he could play a couple of songs for church. She pumped the organ while he played. When he returned home to Fort Wayne, his dad, my grandfather, Ralph, ran a mission. Once a week he and my grandmother, Goldie, fed folks ham and beans and provided a small Biblical message to the men. Once my dad returned (only five years old) he told Ralph he could play the piano. Of course, the mission didn’t have one, but a piano was donated so he could play.

My dad grew up to be a fine pianist. Oh, not musician enough to make a career, but a piano player for his own good. I took lessons as a child, and while not a natural musician, I learned to play show tunes with my dad. We played many duets on our grand piano. I still have most of those wonderful books and sheets of music. I used to take the bus down to Murphy’s in Fort Wayne on Saturdays to buy sheet music with my allowance. The other bit of my allowance went towards buying bouquets of flowers from the Barr Street market.

I have always played the piano for my own enjoyment. I often set the timer as I get lost in the music and time slips away. I tried the guitar, but I really wasn’t good at it although I wanted to be good. Perhaps I didn’t practice enough? I gave my guitar away to Brianna this summer as she is interested in all the arts!

Trading in the guitar for a ukulele was such a great decision for me! Of course, sweetening the pot is Carolyn who played uke with me every day during the pandemic. We have traveled to lots of weekend events, but the most fun of all is playing at the Angola Carnegie Library on the second Monday of the month.

This past month we had a different situation. We were invited (or we invited ourselves?) to play music for Cameron Woods on that Monday. Carolyn presented the possibility to our group, and we all said “yes,” of course! Having a gig…a real gig…meant extra practices and adding some great Halloween music! Who doesn’t love “The Monster Mash,” or “The Flying Purple People Eater?” Carolyn and I have been participating in the Fort Wayne uke group and a few of those folks said, “Sure, let’s play!”

We practiced, and the day of our gig came! Now I have had many storytelling gigs in my life, but not so many music gigs with folks I like a lot. Do I dare say how excited we were to share our music with the residents of Cameron Woods?

We showed up early and had to bring in even more chairs for the band. We filled up half the room! Ken Scharpenberg and his wife, Judy, came to accompany our ukes and keep the beat for us! As we were setting up, we saw familiar faces which made us all smile.

Then the concert started. We had the most fun…probably even more fun than the residents. Oh, I know it was a small gig in the big pool of available music in our area, but to us it was an amazing afternoon. We had two encores, although I think we instigated both! It didn’t matter; we were happy to play a few more songs.

It was a great afternoon, and I think we all need some happy afternoons in our life. Playing music that afternoon was perhaps a Zen moment letting the music carry us away! Of course, we would love to play for you.

We are the Steuben Strummers! Won’t you join us?

The Steuben Strummers

No comments:

Coming home...

  I took this photo a few years ago at the Balloon Festival. A long day at the airports on July 3 rd gave way to a late twilight flight out...