Since I was a little girl, music has been essential to me. I started playing piano when I was six, and sang in church and school choirs for years. My family encouraged music, with lessons and carpools, and extraordinary patience, listening to endless practicing. Love for music was strong in my family. My paternal grandparents were professional musicians and at family gatherings, after dinner we would adjourn to the living room to sing songs to their accompaniment. My musician son and daughter and I have continued a tradition of music after meals. To this day, I can still hear my grandmother Emily’s voice, encouraging me to “put your heart and emotions into your playing.” The best lesson ever.
As a young woman, I directed choruses and acapella, arranged choral music, participated in musicals and sang in sacred and secular choirs. I learned the classics (Manhattan School of Music) and studied jazz improvisation with a NYC jazz pianist. While I started out majoring in music in college, the powerful momentum of the women’s movement led me to explore making a difference as a lawyer and economist, so the music became a side-dish for a number of years, with chamber music and local choral singing on the menu.
An illness in 2001, forced me to step out of my professional life and heal in the wilderness of Vermont. During this sojourn, my relationship to music took a profound turn. In the silence of the woods, while physically and cognitively slowed down, I started hearing music in my head whenever I looked at a text or focussed on nature. I would wake up hearing music, and just sit at the piano or organ, playing what I heard in my “mind’s ear.” When I read the Declaration of Independence, music arose. You can hear the resulting choral piece, in three parts, here. Other music flowed in, and I began keeping notebooks of the morning music, and the music associated with nature, people and texts.
Since then, I live an ongoing experiment with the music which arises when I sit next to someone who needs healing, or connect with nature or the moon’s cycles. Through this sharing, I have come to understand, that this music from the deep, is beneficial to support the meditation, healing and wisdom of people and groups.
This year, I offer the music to a broader audience, with the wisdom of the experiments and the joy from sharing. Thanks for listening. Keep listening to the world around you and the music within your soul.
Cheryl L. Conner