On this day of the American Thanksgiving holiday, I am among so many who are thankful for so much – family, friends, the benefits of living in a free country, a plentiful table, and people who are thankful for me as I am thankful for them.

But I wish to be thankful for something specific with today’s writing.

That something is music. Powerful, widely varied music. Instrumental, vocal, classical, folk, jazz, choral, movie soundtracks, musicals – and so much more.

Music has been a part of my life ever since I slept in a crib in my childhood home. I began piano lessons at my mother’s side in second grade. I sang in a boys’ choir. I started playing trombone in fifth grade. I became more and more aware of music as I attended family gatherings where music was all around – sometimes Christmas carols, sometimes standing along the piano while mom or Uncle Dan or my sister would play songs, or at a choir concert at a high school, or at a performance of barbershop groups.

We had a big console record player at home. I would lay on the floor next to it and listen to all kinds of music. Mom had some classical records. Grandma had some old 78 rpm records where I heard my first Barber of Seville Overture. There were Christmas albums, the Swedish guys ‘Stan and Doug” who did ‘Yust a little Lefse”. Smothers Brothers, movie soundtracks, and eventually added my own or borrowed my sister’s records.

As I grew, there was music at church – hymns while sitting in the front row with my friend Jim. Singing in church choir next to people four times my age. Singing with my friends in the youth group, where I learned a bit more about playing guitar.

The high school years also had me participating in band and choir – and another boys’ choir. The pops concerts, the state music contests – all times of music and satisfaction. Not to forget about pep band and marching band as well.

Off to college – and by that time I had decided to become a music teacher. I played in my first jazz groups and in string orchestras when they needed trombone players. This led not only to amazing musical experiences, but I got to perform in so many places – from many states in this country, and even a trip to England/Denmark/Sweden.

And then on to 34 years of music teaching in Pillager, Minnesota, where I found myself involved in band, some vocal work, elementary classroom music, programs, concerts, and the actual teaching of music itself.

And within those 34 years, and continuing on, I have been part of musical productions – some on stage, some in the pit. More community groups like choirs and orchestras, and church choir, which is so much like those early years.

I have experienced music at concerts, plays, funerals, weddings, worship times, Memorial Day services and other patriotic events – at dances, parades – (both from the sidelines and from the truck bed as a member of a Blues Brothers tribute band…) sitting at home and listening to my wife play, or playing myself, or as good friend Darryl Nettles taught Wilma and me all about stride piano and jazz and opera and all that.

The teachers – in the formal category, there’s Trotto and Jonas and Lammers and Falck and Vollmers and Hervi. In the informal, there’s mom and Uncle Dan and Uncle Porky and Uncle Paul and so many more aunts and uncles. My sisters, too, count here. My dear Wilma has shared so much ..and friends who shared other musical experiences … My students, too, who showed me that music can be done and enjoyed over and over again and in so many styles and flavors.

I could list titles up and down the page of all kinds of favorites, of pieces of band music, choral pieces, popular songs, musicals, jazz, hymns, stuff that just got made up – but you know, it all comes from that core of art called music. I am mighty glad it does.

So on this Thanksgiving, let it be said that music is something to be thankful for.

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