Music Night

In my family, Friday night was music night. We would play instruments together, the three children on tambourines and whistles at first, then on trumpets and piano. Russ, three years older than I, was the first to study music; Carol, three years younger, was the last.

The high point of our career as a family band came one Christmas season, when we made a recording. It was my dad's idea. With a career in audiovisuals, he had spent a lot of time in the recording studio. One Saturday afternoon he took us there with him, spread out some arrangements on a music stand, and told us we were going to make our Christmas card. It turned out to be a seven-inch record—red, with a green label—on which the entire group played "Deck the Halls," followed by a brief solo and Christmas wish from each family member.

I listened to the record recently. What struck me about the music wasn't so much the notes themselves but what was in between—a feeling of excitement, of doing things together and enjoying it. Above all, among the Christmas greetings and carols, there was a sense that making music was as natural as breathing.

In those Friday night sessions, on weekday evenings around the piano, on Sunday mornings at church, my parents taught me that music is life—not about life or around life or in life, but life itself.