Because I never listen to the radio and rarely go into a store with piped-in music, I don't hear the sappy Christmas music that everyone else seems to complain about all November and December. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hear holiday music. In fact, this month has been filled with music, mostly jazz and classical.
The first musical performance we went to this month was held in a castle-like building built more than 100 years ago: it’s the music building on the Snowstorm University campus, but looks like something that belongs at Hogwarts. In an auditorium marked by lovely woodwork, Shaggy Hair Boy accompanied the jazz ensemble on a black grand piano. Because he’s the pianist, he’s the one musician who doesn’t face the audience, which is why it’s lucky he’s got such great hair.
The next weekend, we crowded into a bookstore to hear Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why play a duet, and then the next weekend, they played two piano recitals at the music studio. The families of the other piano students know my two by now, and I often hear people whisper as they get their programs, “Oh, the brothers are going to play!” They know Shaggy Hair Boy for his jazzy numbers, and With-a-Why because he can play songs like Flight of the Bumblebee, which requires playing really fast.
Last Saturday, we went to “Cabaret” night at the local high school. For the first half hour, as people mingled and talked and found their seats, With-a-Why played song after song on the piano. It’s amazing how classical music, nice tablecloths, and dim lighting can transform a high school cafeteria into a cabaret. He sang with the chamber choir, but the evening also featured him playing DeBussy’s Clair de Lune on the piano.
The holiday music season ended yesterday afternoon with the boys playing in a more humble setting: the lobby of the assisted living center where my mother-in-law lives. Although the boys each did a few show-off instrumental pieces, most of their time was spent playing traditional Christmas Carols while my husband took the microphone and got all the old people to sing along with him. My mother-in-law kept turning and saying in a stage whisper, “That’s my son! And my grandsons!”
When the event was over, my husband and I helped move chairs while aides came in to assist some of the residents. But Shaggy Hair Boy stayed at the keyboard, playing songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “Georgia on My Mind.”
“This brings tears to my eyes,” my mother-in-law said to me. I could tell that some of the elderly women sitting near her felt the same way. None of them wanted to move. I’m not sure how long they would have all stayed there — Shaggy Hair Boy playing the old standards, the old folks listening — if the staff didn’t come in to politely tell them that it was almost time for the first dinner shift.
An elderly woman let go of her walker to grab my hand. “Your sons have a passion for music,” she said. “That’s a wonderful gift.” Then she went down the hall, singing under her breath as she pushed the metal walker over the linoleum.