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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Finding my own beat

  • I like to think of myself as a product of musical lineage. While I wouldn’t compare my family to the folksy Carters or soulful Jackson 5, the DNA of my kin contains a dollop (or at least a dash) of groove.
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  • I like to think of myself as a product of musical lineage. While I wouldn’t compare my family to the folksy Carters or soulful Jackson 5, the DNA of my kin contains a dollop (or at least a dash) of groove.
    My distant cousin is Dolly Parton. I have never met her, though some aunts and uncles more closely related to her have. It’s mostly a novelty fact we like to throw around at gatherings.
    Significantly more immediate to me, my great-grandmother is a piano aficionado. This skill seems common among her generation, but I find her playing especially beautiful.
    My grandmother plays the accordion with ease. My mother is drawn to the French horn and initially went to school to pursue a vocal career.
    In third grade, I learned to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on the recorder. That’s the extent of my musical talent. I use the word “talent” loosely.
    A staple in my movie collection is 1979’s “The Jerk,” featuring Steve Martin. One scene showcases a catchy tune played on a ukulele. When I saw this, I thought, “That’s it! That’s the instrument I need to finally join the musical ranks.”
    I immediately went with a friend to a guitar store and purchased a ukulele. Because I selected the small instrument based solely on its red color, I’m certain the salesman had me figured out as an amateur. Still, I was confident in my musical destiny, so I also bought an instructional video. Surely I would be jamming in no time.
    Nearly two years have passed and I can churn out “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” though the pauses for finger adjustments make it a 45-minute rendition.
    I’ll keep trying my hand at various instruments, but I’ve come to accept the melodious gene skipped me. I love music, but I’m not musical.
    I think art and music education in grade school is important for everyone, but especially for those who lack a natural knack… because, at least now, if my family ever forms a band, I’ll be right there in the background, rocking out on the recorder.

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