I keep trying to figure out what to call this Friday series of growing-up-reminiscing.  Since my brother Josh came up with the name “71 Toes,” I’m now counting on him to come up with a great name for this series.  Dave mentioned “110 Toes” and I want to come up with something more original, but that sounds like a LOT of toes, right?  How in the world did my Mom keep all those things clipped?  Hmmm. Ok, so today I’m reminiscing about music.  I already told a little snippet about it back here, and my sister wrote up her version over here.  Music was a big deal in our family growing up…which makes it interesting that none of us are really that great at it.  I mean, my little sister is pretty great at sight reading on the piano and my older sister got really good at the violin, but I wouldn’t call us a fantastically musical family.  That’s why we all laugh that we were once named the “Western Regional Music Family of the year”.  I’m serious about that.  It really somehow happened.  But I’m not sure how many people there were in the running…  Maybe it had something to do with this funny picture of everyone trying to play: s_9acqy2vl30056Is that about the cheesiest thing you’ve ever seen or what?? Even though we weren’t incredibly musical, we were exposed to music in all kinds of forms, and I’m so grateful for that. Our living room wall was lined with musical instruments my parents collected from all over the world.  2006-01-03 J. B. Mopeltel 055 Classical music would always come through our intercom system on Sundays and it was a priority to take us to the symphony here and there.  And we all got to choose our own instrument to play.  I chose the violin: 2006-01-03 J. B. Mopeltel 037 This was the scroll on my violin:2006-01-03 J. B. Mopeltel 041 Seriously, who wouldn’t want to play that thing? I never got past the screechy part even though I took lessons for years. Which is interesting since I really think I could give myself the award for the “best practicer” in the family. I have lots of journal entries about my “daily schedule” and all of them include 1/2 hour of piano practice and 1/2 hour of violin practice in the wee hours of the morning.  I remember being the only one up in the dark mornings plunking away on that piano.  I don’t remember ever being too frustrated that I never seemed to get any better.  (Except now, when I WISH I could sight read music better.) Because my Mother majored in music she could play anything (at least in my mind).  One of my favorite memories when we lived in England was how she would play the piano once in a while as we drifted off to sleep.  She usually just accompanied us singing so it felt extra special hearing her play just to play.  It was like velvet to my ears.  I also loved the sound of her melodic viola.  We did have a family string quartet for a good while there.  My Dad took up cello, my sister and I played our violins, and my mother held us all together with her viola.  I remember being pretty proud of some of the music we created together…as long as my Dad and my parts were pretty simple we could pull some cool stuff off. My parents put us in singing groups and had us try out for Annie.  That led to a whole summer of putting on our own production of Annie up at Bear Lake (more on that later).  We were also the main singers for the Joy School music tapes back in the olden days.  I remember my Dad holding up the microphone of our ancient recording device and adding the special effects (a dog barking sound, a bear growling sound, etc.) while my mom played the piano and we sang our little hearts out.  Sometimes the doorbell would ring in the middle or one of the little kids would start crying in the middle of a recording.  I think they left that stuff in.  I could go on and on but my time is gone.  I’ll just say I am so grateful for every music, and that my parent’s love of it gave me my own love.  Music can transform things even if you can’t produce it well. 

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  1. Look at that wall of instruments! Beautiful. We were surrounded with music growing up, too, and my sisters and I played all through college. I remember my mom pulling out her flute when I was little, and I would be in awe of her. Maybe I need to dust off the old instruments and play a little for my kids. I so want my children to have a love and appreciation of all kinds of music, and not just what they hear on the radio.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I so clearly remember being at your house many, many years ago when we were all young, staring at all the beautiful instruments that filled your parents home. I was in awe! Eventually I started playing the violin from grade school and throughout high school…but since then I've picked it up and played it maybe a hand full of times. Singing was more a passion for me, and in our home. My parents were both singers (my Dad was a member of the group 'The Lettermen') and music always filled our home – even to the point where we would compete in singing competitions. Grateful for music in my life and for the example my parents were.

  3. so what i want to know is how she got everyone to practice??? I have 5 kids…2 are in lessons (piano), one flat out refuses to play and the other 2 are just tiny. I feel like it's hard enough to keep up with the 2 who are playing (reminding them to practice, etc.). your parents are amazing!

    1. I get my kids to practice by making their practicing hours part of their "salary" we pay every two weeks. If they have 6 hours they get a full salary, anything under 4 and they get no salary.

  4. Did your Mum & Dad get you to practice with the pegs & money reward system? I'm sure I remember your Mum saying this on a tape that I have of them talking at a parenting fireside. Whatever they did worked:)

    I'm really enjoying reading about your childhood. Can't wait to read about when you lived here in the uk a couple of times, especially the schools you attended:)

    Thanks for a brill blog:)

  5. Man I'm so happy about this beautiful photography of our instruments. Well maybe except that first one that was done by a magazine photographer. Funny but glad he caught that "moment" too).

    Those were happy times (funny how you forget the miserable times) and thanks for being the best practicer. I don't remember any tears coming from you! You were amazing!

  6. This musical instrument wall is glorious! I'm so in love with it and I'm making mental/literal notes of making this a reality in my future home. It's so AWESOME! 🙂

  7. Oh, I am green with envy looking at the photo of that amazing music room. How lucky you were to have access to all those instruments. Growing up we were poor and our living room contained nothing more than a piano. Still, despite the lack of instruments our tenacious mother sacrificed much so we could study with the best music teachers. And of my siblings 3 out of the 5 of us became professional musicians (one directs EVMCO in your area). But oh, how we would have thrived in a room like that.

  8. Not everyone can afford a Picasso, but those who can, generally, aren't willing to share it with everyone because they want exclusive ownership over the Picasso, that's part of the package of owning fine art.

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