This post ties into both my post about what A.M. Henry’s memoir meant to me and the events that shaped my life. I got the inspiration for my essay by looking at how music influenced Henry’s life. Music played a role in her everyday life such as at house parties and church ceremonies. One moment of the memoir that stood out for me especially was when May’s parents were encouraged to sing their songs from Scotland. This interested me because it shows how a simple song can stay in one’s mind even if the environment changes around them. This proved songs seemed to be a way for someone to connect the past with the present. This inspired me because I remember playing the piano at family events such as Christmas parties, and I understood what music meant to Henry’s family because it means something similar to mine.
Music is a way for families to connect and come together. I can easily picture A. M. Henry and her family and friends coming together around the piano and organ and seeing songs. The image that comes instantly into my mind is when my grandfather always tears up when I play “Waltzing Matilda” or we sing it as a family. This song is something special to him because Australia was his first home. I imagine a similar thing might happen when Henry’s parents sang songs from Scotland. I noticed how Henry always mentioned the instrument in the room when she described a room. She even states,
The organ was part of the dining-room furnishings (II/6)
I interpreted this to mean that the organ was essential to the room. It was not just decoration. It was like a chair or table; it was meant to be used. This means it must have played a significant part in the lives of the Henry family. In fact, it played a role so much that it was probably a reason Rob, A.M.’s brother, was inspired to take up music as a profession (II/43).
I was also inspired from learning about storytelling. I had an epiphany that every song is a story. It does not matter if there are no lyrics, each song takes a listener through a journey. If someone is having a hard time writing a narrative, they might be able to get their story across through song. Like Field describes about oral interviews being therapeutic (not necessarily healing) for the participant, a song could be a way to get something out, and a type of media that outlets their true feelings. That is another way that inspired to look into Canadian songs and how they identify Canada.
Overall, I was just thoroughly curious if music played as large of role for all Canadian families as it did for Henry and her family and as it does for me and my family.
Field, S., “Beyond ‘Healing’: Trauma, Oral History and Regeneration,”Oral History, 34, 1 (2006): 31- 42.
Henry, A.M., This is NOT a Fairy Tale, Owen Sound, 1983 (Online in Moodle), parts 1 & 2.