Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

5 Reasons Music is Helping Me Through COVID-19

They’d left on a search for morel mushrooms, my husband and four older kids sneaking out after supper, down to the creek behind our house.  “We’ll just take a quick look,” they promised.

The two-year-old and I were left at home.  I browsed Facebook and finished listening to our county’s COVID-19 daily update.  Forty-five cases.  Twenty-one recovered.  Two new cases.  The report ended, and I wondered where our family could be.  Instead of starting on the pile of dishes waiting to be washed, I did what any mama feeling stuck at home might do.

I pulled out my euphonium.

My what?  (Yes, I heard you.)

(Okay, it’s a low brass instrument with the same range as a trombone, but it looks more like a small tuba.  Don’t feel bad.  Most people don’t know.  In marching band, they can look a little different still as you can see both the marching style and the more traditional baritone below.)

 

And I played.

Tonight, I played some warm-ups I found, my high school solo piece (Andante et Allegro), 1812 Overture, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (for the two year old), and Americans We.  Sometimes I play hymns.  Sometimes I play other songs I think people will recognize and be encouraged by.

With our municipal band season canceled this summer and shelter-in-place orders in effect, I’ve been feeling the need to play more music – outside.  And, it’s what seems to lift my spirits more than anything.

Why?

Here’s what I think:

  1. The songs I play give me the opportunity to share a message. Sometimes it’s a message in my heart that just needs to come out, like playing It’s a Wonderful World for the walkers traveling down our street as this shelter-in-place began, joyfully belting out Jesus Christ Is Risen Today as Easter Sunday dawned, or soulfully offering It is Well With My Soul to those within earshot as a reminder that our hope is bigger than our circumstances.  I need to encourage people – it’s one thing that brings me great joy – but now it needs to be from a distance.  It’s a good thing my horn’s sound carries well (and that I have encouraging neighbors!).
  2. The songs I play have meaning to me.  Take Americans We from tonight.  Our local municipal band ends each concert with this song.  I’ve been playing with this band on and off since 2008 (when I wasn’t having a baby or living out of state).  I found the piece tonight with a group of sheet music from an event I played for twenty-five years ago as a new high school grad.  I immediately remembered that event (lugging my baritone around San Antonio and rehearsing instead of having as much leisure time as my friends, but also a great time of playing for the biggest crowd I’d likely ever seen).  I remember playing this piece with new-then-dear-to-me friends in the municipal band with all the treasures of those outside rehearsals and concerts in the park through the years with amazing musicians and inspiring conductors.  I drink in those sweet memories and think less of my frustrations.
  3. My heart rate is elevated, much like exercise.  Playing the euphonium takes some air, and it’s a kind of work out to breathe and play for a length of time.  I feel all of those wonderful endorphins that I get while exercising, but this is more fun for me.  (And, honestly, these wonderful family walks at the two year old’s pace don’t really get my heart rate up very high.)  I’m energized in a way that can motivate me to stay up to wash the dishes or have the confidence to handle the next challenge that comes.
  4. I get to invest in my neighborhood.  I’m not a professional musician.  Often, I don’t get to play much throughout the year except for the municipal band season.  (I have five young kids and am just starting to enter a season with a little more time for my own interests.)  But, with no concerts available and everyone at home, maybe I can share what I have with the hope of being a blessing.  I’m also hoping I can encourage the young musicians I know in the neighborhood, 5th and 6th graders just starting out, to keep playing, both now and long after high school.  This is my 33rd year of playing, and it gives me such joy!  I want them to see that.  And maybe, someone out there will dust off his or her horn and go outside to play again…
  5. I can share something I love with my family.  Not only is playing therapeutic for me, but sharing something I love so much with my family warms my heart even more.  The kids all want a chance to “play” and give it a try.  We take some turns.  They can see that music isn’t just a class to take; it’s a part of life, enriching and beautiful.

HannahEuph4-20

And sometimes, there’s an unexpected extra bit of joy that comes with that – like when your two year old makes her first real sounds on the instrument and has some good tone!  Don’t believe me?  You can see her here.  (Do watch it!  She’s so cute!)

What’s something that refreshes your heart during this season?

 

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