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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

Music - An Expression of the Heart

You'd never put Parry's Anthem "I Was Glad" in the same sentence as Football and EXCPN TV - but we did. As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago…

In the run up to the big Stoke Football match ESCPN TV network came to film the choir that my daughter and I sing in (Ceramic City Choir) to get footage of us singing Tom Jones’ “Delilah” to intersperse between the preliminaries before the match. I’m told that the reason that “Delilah” is associated with Stoke football matches is because, decades ago, at a match the PA system broke down and so they had to keep playing “Delilah” over and over again. It was a far cry from our usual repertoire, but it was great fun! It really bought home to me that we always want to mark a special occasion with music and singing. The cultural expression of that outburst is constantly changing but the heart remains the same. In church we sing hymns in praise to God, at a wedding we have singing and music during the signing of the register - even if that music happens to be a CD track of a favourite or special song. Incidentally, I was thrilled to note that I’ve sung “I Was Glad” by Parry, which was sung at the Royal wedding, many times. Without the expression of music any major event seems to fall a little flat - our natural inclination is to burst out in song. The genre of Musicals is testament to that and “The Sound of Music” is still my favourite film. It’s one of those movies that the kids always watched when they were ill with a duvet on the sofa - Hannah still does.
I think that music is so accessible to us now that we fail to notice its impact: Because we have mp3s, iPods, radio and TV at our fingertips we just take for granted how much we turn to music. Personally, I really cannot have music in the background - I prefer to sit in quiet. My mum is the same and apparently her gran before her too. However, if I am listening to music I cannot hold a conversation at the same time. In the car I had Vierne’s “Mess Solonelle” to learn it for a recent concert, or Elgar’s “Dream of Gerontius” to listen to and study and the children know not to speak then, or if we do get chatting the CD goes off!
Really, I prefer music live. You can’t beat playing a few piano or flute duets with your friends. I remember when I was about 10 years old and could first manage to knock out a few ditties and I remember playing with my friend on her piano (only little things) until we were so tired and thirsty, but didn’t want to stop. In the Renaissance period (Shakespeare’s era) obviously there were no CDs etc. and people would play music as their evening pastime. Instead of a TV you would have a consort of recorders, or a chest of viols (the predecessor of the violin). Music was printed in a + shape so that four people could sit around a table and see their own part. Long before electric guitarists used tablature (TAB) lutanists followed tab to play their madrigals. Even if you didn’t play (or couldn’t afford) an instrument you would sing. Most Renaissance madrigals sang of nymphs and shepherds and had the famous “fa la la” refrain. We still have echoes of their music in what we sing today, eg. “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la ...”
We all have our personal preference in the style of music we enjoy, but nobody can argue that we all enjoy music and need it to express our heart on many different occasions - even a football match. We all enjoy CDs and music recordings, but there’s no doubt that music is best enjoyed live.