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Melissa's Story - Please Don't Stop the Music

There's an awesome new project that I've had the honor of being a part of and we need you to help. It's about revitalizing music education in America. I decided to write an essay about my childhood experiences with music to provide a personal account on the experiences children need in the education system.

Please check out the Kickstarter page for Don't Stop the Music - USA and donate if you can. Please share too and help spread the word! 

I have many music memories from my childhood. I guess you could say my love for music started before I knew that it was important. My family was a long ways away from being talented musically, but I remember dancing in the kitchen to “Locomotion” with my mom when I was 5. I thought we were the coolest family I knew because we had a kitchen radio! It hung under the spice cupboard and above the pile of junk mail that didn't move until I was 16. My dad had an awesome stereo and speaker set too - but that was in the living room. A kitchen radio in 1987 -- that was the good stuff!

When I was about 7 or 8, my sister and I started taking piano lessons. A lanky, tall man with taller hair would come by the house every Wednesday afternoon and spend 30 minutes with both of us. He made us make our own flashcards to learn how to read music and he would train our fingers how to move eloquently across those ivory keys. My sister had long slender fingers while mine were short and stubby - which in turn made her a better piano player than I. She played “Fur Elise” beautifully.

Around 3rd grade, I got a clarinet. I remember going to Victor Litz to purchase one. We bought it used, because a new one was well over $500 (if I remember correctly). I got reeds and I got wax for the joints and it all came in it’s very own case, which of course was decorated with New Kids On The Block stickers! I played until 8th grade. I was part of jazz band where we played my favorite, “Louie Louie”. In our main ensemble, my favorite Christmas song to play was “Sleigh Ride” because the wind section always had the fun arrangements in that tune. My sister played the flute during this time, and because I’ve already complimented her once here, I feel entitled by the Rules of Sisterly Love to say that I was better at clarinet than she was at her flute. I was even accepted into the county’s honor band - I was clearly, the best of the best (er, except for the 2 students who sat in chairs 1 and 2).

My high school years found me connecting with music in a different way. I couldn’t sing and I gave up on band, but this is when I started listening to my own music. Ace of Base was my first CD. The first concert review I ever wrote was about an Aerosmith tour for our high school’s newspaper. I spent hours upon hours writing down lyrics (which I happen to still have - see pic). These words meant so much to me. How did these musicians know exactly how and what I was feeling? I never figured out that answer - all I know is that connecting with these lyrics and this music felt...right.

I can’t tell you what life would be like for me without music as an influence to my childhood - because I don’t know. I can’t tell you what life will be like for kids nowadays to grow up without music-education - because I can't imagine. 

What I do know is this: we need to keep giving children the chance to play. I don’t want hear to the sounds of a world without music.

 Don’t Stop the Music, America.


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