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Friday, 15 April 2016

A-Z: I Remember - Music & Movie Moments

I Remember When......
Recalling Memories of My Childhood & Beyond

I  am in an  all singing/dancing chorus, swirling my skirts,  in a  London West End show  - such as Carousel, Oklahoma, West Side Story or 42nd Street .......

But It Was All One of My Wildest Dreams!  

Back to reality! Playing the triangle in my infant school percussion group  is my earliest musical memory.  I was not too pleased at being given  this instrument.  Like everyone else, I wanted the favourite choice  - the sleigh bells. 

My first stage performance  was at a Brownie's concert when, clutching our teddies,  we sang "The Teddy Bear's Picnic". 

In my primary school days,  every Wednesday afternoon we gathered in the hall for community singing and I learned such patriotic songs as The British Grenadiers, Hearts of Oak, The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, Bluebells of Scotland and my favourite Men of Harlech, sung with much gusto.  Sea shanties were also popular as we swung from side to side to sing What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?   Are these now all forgotten,  as I doubt that children are familiar with them today? 

I began learning the piano at the age of eight, largely because it was a sore point with my mother that her older sister and much younger sister learnt, but she missed out.  Later in life,  I did have a go at teaching myself the recorder, but the dog hated it and whined throughout my attempts, so I never got very far!   I would have loved to go to dancing classes, but that was not to be. 

My parents and aunt were the people I have to thank for making music so much a  part of my life from an early age, introducing me to musicals, operetta and ballet (my most favourite art form).  I was lucky to grow up in Blackpool, Lancashire which  had regular touring companies to the Opera House and Grand Theatre.  

I loved The Gypsy Baron and wanted  a gypsy costume and  headdress with long coloured ribbons  - the nearest I got was full skirt  trimmed with rows of  ric rac.  My first ballet was Coppelia - an ideal choice for a little girl with the feisty heroine in a lovely pale blue tutu,  the handsome hero - and more Hungarian dances.  

 In my teens, my mother took me to see "Sleeping Beauty" and I was mesmerised by the magic of it - from the orchestral overture,  the transforming scenery, the costumes and of course the dancing.  "La Boheme" was the first grand opera I saw and my hanky was well and truly soaked as I wept at the death of Mimi.  Ditto seeing Carmen and La Traviata. 

We weren't a particularly musical family, but my mother sang in the Townswomen's Guild Choir and my father sang in the church choir.  Radio & TV  programmes such as "Melodies for You, 100 Best Tunes, Friday Night is Music Night  and Songs of Praise  - were regulars we listened  to or watched.

Singing in a choir (school, church, community)  has been a key activity throughout my life from primary school days onwards, whether it was folk songs from round the world, spirituals, carols, sacred music, opera and operetta choruses,   or songs from the shows - musical tastes that still mean a lot to me today. I was very happy to be a chorus girl, with no pretensions to be a soloist - I knew my limitations!  It is a marvellous form of music making, whatever your age, a great creator of the "feel good factor",  and there is nothing to beat singing with the full blooded accompaniment of an an orchestra or  organ.   

High school introduced me to Gilbert & Sullivan  and I was hooked, singing in most of the operas over the years.  
In "Yeoman of the Guard"
My other musical highlight was a few years ago when I  was  one of over a 1000 singers, plus orchestra and organ  in a "Come and Sing" performance of "The Messiah"  in the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London - an exhilarating. moving  and unforgettable experience in front of a packed 4000 audience.  I was on a high,  walking back to our hotel.   

I have now decided it is time  to "retire" my voice, but music still plays an important part in my life.  "  The  musical moments and memories live on. 

More M's 
What MOVIE MEMORIES do you haveMy first film was apparently "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". and we went regularly to family friendly films in the 1950's and early 60's    I never liked "The Wizard of Oz", but loved later musicals, and as a teenager had a massive crush on Dirk Bogarde, especially in "A Tale of Two Cities". 


Onto N 
Needles, Nativity & Names

In Case You Missed.....
A-Z Challenge 2016 Theme Revealed:   
I Remember......Memories of Childhood

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. Music was a large part of my family growing up. I can't imagine life without it. It seems to be universal to humans, a way to communicate without the need of understanding the language. At some deep level, almost all of us understand music.

  2. Music is everywhere. Even babies invent their own songs. I often marvel on the seemingly infinite combinations of notes that have been produced. And there's nothing better than car karaoke.

  3. You have LOTS of musical memories. I covered mine under "P" for piano lessons and "R" for record (spoiler alert: yes, I made a record, but don't get your hopes up). Like you, I wanted dance lessons, but Momma said no. But she couldn't get my daughter into ballet fast enough. Grandmothers!

  4. A great idea for a blog. It will be priceless for your family.
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  5. I suppose music is pretty much a lifelong interest, something that often defies aging. My mother had a song book from the 30's and 40's. She would sing me songs out of it. I sang them to my children. One year in high school I had my dream of dressing like a gypsy come true for Halloween. Mama got her old "josey party" dress out of the cedar chest, washed, ironed and starched it. I wore it and multiple bangle bracelets. The neckline even came slightly off the shoulders! I am doing my own childhood remembrances for this AtoZ! Revisit the Tender Years with me during the #AtoZChallenge at Life & Faith in Caneyhead!

  6. Music was a huge part of my childhood too. My granny played piano and sang along with my Grampa, my Mom and some of Mom's friends - first church songs, rolling in to war songs. We lived in a very small town, but we did have a piano teacher. I quit when she wouldn't teach me Beatle songs LOL. I too wanted to dance.
    Great memories of staying at my brothers with my kids are Saturday nights after dinner dancing around the kitchen to Finkleman's 45's on the radio.
    You are stirring up some wonderful memories Sue! Thanks.

  7. I never learned a musical instrument much to my chagrin. I always fancied having a pianola so I could cheat a bit.

  8. Thank you all for sharing your musical memories - proof that music is such a wodnerful and enhancing interest.

  9. We have a piano sitting here unused (my daughter played piano when she lived at home). I really should try to learn. I struggled to read music when a child so was put of learning instruments. I wonder if as an adult I will be able to learn music?

  10. I did learn the piano briefly at the local convent and would,practice at the neighbour's but in the end that just didn't work.


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