Music, Music, Music
Musical Instruments! Do you play a musical instrument or did one of your family members? What instrument did you or they play? If no one in the family played an instrument, tell what is your favorite instrument or band and what is your least favorite one.
I do play several instruments. I began playing the piano when I was in the second grade. My first piano teacher was a lady named Mrs. Price. I really don't remember much about her. I only took from her one or two years. I later took piano lessons from Margaret Oliver who had been my elementary school music teacher until her retirement. All of us loved Mrs. Oliver. I remember the year after she left that we had a young music teacher named Miss West that we really didn't like that much. She just didn't measure up to Mrs. Oliver's standards. I took piano for several years from Mrs. Oliver. Something I've been told since I've been doing genealogy is that Mrs. Oliver's husband was part of the Oliver family who had lived in Cades Cove when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created. I really want to research his family when I get a chance since I live so close. Many records will be in Knoxville or at the park library in the visitor center. I never knew him because she was a widow when I first met her in elementary school. When the opportunity came to take from a pastor in a nearby town who played beautifully by ear arose, I took lessons from him. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned more about accompanying and techniques from him than I'd learned up to that point from my previous teachers. After he went to the mission field, I did take from one other lady, but that was short-lived because I was learning nothing from her that I couldn't do on my own.
I also play the organ. When I finished my seminary studies, I went to work for a church in Nashville, Tennessee as a director of children's education. The organist had a habit of running late on Sunday evenings because of his job selling musical instruments in one of the mall stores. I began going into the sanctuary and practicing during breaks during the day and with extra time on my lunch break. One night the organist wasn't there by 6 p.m. so the pastor had me play. I was scared to death since I really had not played the organ that much, but I made it through the service fine. I continued to practice and gained some confidence before I had to do it again in the next week or two. I still play the organ about once a year for a service.
Band was a big thing in Amory, Mississippi where I grew up. We joined the band in the 6th grade. There was never a question of what instrument I would be playing. I had been given my sister-in-law's flute and piccolo. When we got to the 8th grade, we had to audition to be able to continue in the high school band. Our high school had traditionally received all superior ratings in the band contests, so it was a big deal to be able to continue. My sister-in-law died of cancer during my middle school years. I still have her flute and piccolo. I did get a newer flute when I got into high school. I think that I can still play the Panther Fight Song and the Stars and Stripes Forever by memory on the piccolo. The disadvantage of playing the piccolo during marching season was that your fingers on your gloves had to be cut way back. During those Christmas parades where the temperature was below freezing, that was a rather frigid experience on those metal keys.
I also should not neglect to mention that the voice can be a musical instrument. I sing a lot. At one time, I might have said that I sing "all the time." I generally sing tenor in our church choir. I sing tenor or alto in ensembles. I have been known to sing soprano, baritone, and bass as well. I can't hit really high notes, and I have to use a technique I learned from a bass singer to hit notes below a certain point to reach them, but I can stretch that range an extra half octave lower with that technique if needed. The tenor range is the most comfortable for me.
My favorite instruments are probably the tenor saxophone or the oboe. I love the tenor sax on jazz tunes. Actually I like any saxophone. I love the oboe on classical.
I love music. I've been told that my Cockrell family ancestors were very musical. Bob Franks wrote an article about the musical talents in his Cockrell branch which is from the same family as mine. I'm happy to say that one of my nephews is also very talented musically. He plays guitar and piano.