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My music… my life… so far…

August 12, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

My life… has been brimming to overflowing – with music…  whether it’s playing, listening, teaching, thinking about – even talking about – music.   I’ve spent my entire life, surrounded by people who are filled with music…  and I honestly don’t remember a single day – from the earliest years of my awareness…  when there wasn’t – music.

My beloved grandfather played totally by ear, and he could thump out a bass part,  play piano and guitar – and he sang… ohhh, I can still hear his voice in my head… Here he is as a young man, with his car & guitar…


My grandmother, knowing my Grandad’s  great love for music,   surprised him with a beautiful – Les Paul guitar shortly after they were married.  He played it as long as I can remember… and he gave it to me, shortly before he died.     Sadly,  it was lost in our house fire.

I have so many wonderful memories of my Grandad…   Here’s a pic of us,  taken from an old clip… singing one of his favorite old songs   “You Made me Love You”    made popular by Al Jolson in 1946…

I love the way he’s looking at me and laughing in this pic…  We would harmonize together and do the old time   “do-doo-do-doooo”  back up’s…       It’s goofy,  I know,  but…  I truly loved it.

PopPop Jennif 2

My grandparents had a baby grand piano… and when I was tall enough to reach the keys… I loved to touch the keys…  and when my Grandad or my Aunt Karen, would pass through the room,  they’d always play a tune or a song,  and sing…   They’d send notes drifting into the air…  and I’d come running – to be there… to watch… and listen…

Now that I think of it… the only one who didn’t  actually PLAY music… was our Nanny.   But she was talented in her own way…  She was a wild hearted, artist… working not with notes or an instrument…  but molding things with her hands from clay;  making things in her kiln; and her oil paints of so many colors & shades, an easel, a canvas and a whole bunch of pictures that would give her ideas and inspiration, all thumb-tacked   up on the wall… wow…  I can still smell the linseed oil in her studio… ohhh… those are sights and smells – I will never forget.

When my Aunt Karen taught me to play chords on the Baratone Uke,  I would play & sing old Pete Seeger folk songs… & she let me take it with me when we moved to Colorado –  and that’s where I discovered –  & fell in love – with the mountain dulcimer.

While hiking  one weekend, my parents & I came upon an old general store, and a bunch of old guys…  all musicians… sitting around a big wood stove – playing music.  Someone had a mountain dulcimer across his lap.   I was enchanted…  He let me try it!!!    I loved it.    That following Christmas, my father – actually MADE me one.    He finished the dulcimer, then, recorded himself playing  “Silent Night” on the old, reel to reel tape player.    When I woke up Christmas morning… I heard the music…  and ran out to see…  and the dulcimer was there under the tree…   and the air was filled with the smell of Christmas pine…. & dulcimer music…   It was awesome.     I was 9 that Christmas…      I’m 39 (and holding) –  and I still get a thrill in my heart… when I play dulcimer…


Here – below – is my newest addition to our instrument family –  A Concert Grand model – which is absolutely heaven to play.  Custom made by Dwain Wilder.

dulcimer JM

I remember I wanted to play so badly… I learned to use the old noter (ew)  and I had a Jean Richie song book,  and I’d play them, figuring it out… practicing every day.   No one I knew, played dulcimer, or even KNEW what one was…  I had no one to ask… or talk to… but I just figured out what the sounds were – that would make the songs I wanted to play – work.

And every night, for many years…  I remember saying my prayers…  and I’d always end them with…

“…and please let me learn to play the dulcimer better – when I grow up.   Amen”

I didn’t ask for much…  but I did ask God  –  for that.

JenniferCello  kid

Soon,  my school got an awesome music program,  and I wanted to play the Cello…  They gave me one to use for free, and thus began  my musical  journey into the classical area of music…  I was 10 years old.

Years… no, decades later…  somewhere along the line…  I left the classical world.  I was there for a long, long time, but felt that it just became too restrictive,  and TOTALLY not expressive enough – for what I wanted from music…   For music – I THINK – should be what your feelings actually SOUND like.  I jumped over to the fiddle… smaller, and easier to fit into the car!


So the fiddle fits, and it’s my wild passion…  But I still think classical education – is a very good, important thing for kids to have in one’s life…    Proof being – my babies all play music, and all have (or are still) in the joyful journey – of the classical & musical world…

Here’s Em & I… playing music in the woods this past summer while we were camping;  my Abbie, is first chair cellist in her local orchestra,  and my boy – Phili… lol… he’s a crazy, rockin’ – upright bass player!

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My Mom – Somehow I skipped from Grandparents to my kids…  but Mom… she wasn’t exempt from the family music that more than coursed through our veins… and we’ve spent years now, going to music festivals up and down the East coast together;  and playing & learning tunes.  Her cook book holder has abandoned the kitchen… and she uses it for holding up her music books…   Mom’s Queen of invention!!!     When Mom’s not actually -playing music… she’s  humming!  So even while doing a chore… like cleaning the kitchen, or working in her garden… there’s still the hint of music, drifting in the air!  We just took a camping trip this past weekend, and here we are playing music by the water…

Mom & I dulcimers 12.22.06 PM

Music branches to more than just family…  I’ve somehow become surrounded by amazing friends who are brimming with music too.  I’m not even gonna GO into my fiddle students and how many awesome, talented people I have come through my door every week – for lessons!)

Tom, Phil Mitch & John mix

I of course, can’t forget the boys in the band either, and our great gig each week at the Green!

I’ve been blessed beyond measure – with all the music, and all these wonderful friends who bring music and joy into my life…  and I KNOW…. though my best friend – Marni – who’s been my horse back / trail riding partner for more than 20 years…  would surely protest, saying she doesn’t play ANY music – except for the radio…  I say… hoof beats… ARE – a musical instrument!!!

girlsThe Boys


AND…….. Last… but not least… is Phil.    Somewhere along the long journey of this musical exploration… Philip has not only COME to the world of playing musical instruments, but he’s developed into quite an accomplished musician.  My Mom gave him a bodhran for Christmas, and thus began his intense infatuation with music….    He’s become not only accomplished with the uilleann pipes,  but plays a lovely whistle,  bodhran & bones… and flute.

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His endless thirst for tunes and his ability to combine various melodies into interesting sets – is always inspiring and exciting…  and I think the only thing he’s met with…  ‘not so much eagerness’…   is when he tries to sing…  and that’s…   all I’ll say about that…    but I will say,  he’s very good humored about the ribbing he gets for his efforts!   🙂

But I guess… I’ll wrap this up with a great quote from Ludwig van Beethoven…  “Music is the mediator – between the spiritual and the sensual life…”    no wonder music can make you come alive!  Way to go Ludwig!!!

I’m curious to see, where this fasinating, musical journey… will take me next…   stay tuned and we shall see…

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