They Say It’s in the Blood

All manner of things get attributed to a person’s heredity. One of them is music. “She got it honest,” they say. “It’s no wonder,” the uncle breathlessly whispers at the piano concert. “His mother was an amazing musician!”

So whether or not there is a “music gene” I cannot intelligently discuss. But as for my own music in my own life, I’m tempted to believe the folk wisdom that says that the ability to play music well is something that is often seen throughout multiple generations of families. Even in the fog of misty, early childhood memories, I recall Mama on the piano and Daddy on the guitar with guests in our home with guitars and full voice. One of those guests was a little man by the name of Shorty Powers. He was a guitar player of apparently regional renown in the Mississippi/Louisiana area. In fact, Shorty was retained by my parents for an unremembered (but brief I believe) period of time to give me guitar lessons at one point early on.

And then, one generation back, music was an integral part of family life. In my mother’s house was a piano and her parents purposed to have every one of their girls who would play do so during the family “singings” in which Uncle Ed was the choirmaster and ever-enthusiastic cheerleader for “Just one more!” Songs played and sang were woven through the fabric of who my mother’s people were at their core. And on my father’s side, the story goes that they would play well into the night knowing full well that they had to get up in the morning, very early, and plow, or plant, or cut a tree or saw a log. Daddy’s heritage came complete with a grandfather who was “the blind fiddle player who won all the fiddling championships.” In fact, my second-born, who played violin herself up through her adolescent years, has inherited that man’s fiddle. Its fingerboard is grooved and worn by the years of caresses that produced such fine music.

Finally, in my own children, whether through acute interest in all things musical, or in the playing of it, it’s pretty clear that there is a pattern for loving and performing music well. And in this iteration of the Parish clan, not only “covering” other artists’ compositions will satisfy, but songwriting, arranging, and professional-grade recording has been made manifest in the now much loved “Christmas present albums.”

So, heredity or environment? Aptitude or attitude? No doubt, it’s both but born out of my own particular experience, I won’t argue with the bloodline theory.