As early as age 3, I can remember my introduction to music. My mother would sit down with me and sing the ABCs and other educational songs.
When she was really busy around the house, she used to put me in a playpen. Then, it was time to listen to her music. This was the early 70s, so albums were the thing. She would throw on some Stevie Wonder, Chic, Natalie Cole, Larry Graham and the Gap Band, just to name a few, while I would play with my toys and groove to the sounds.
When the records werent in rotation or the radio wasnt on, she would have the television tuned in to PBS for me. Almost every scene of Sesame Street started and ended with a song. At age 5, I received a record player and some albums. Through the years, I have kept those albums for sentimental reasons.
The album I remember the most was, Walt Disneys Story of the Three Little Pigs. The story was narrated by a woman with a calm voice. The pigs and the wolf would come in on certain parts. Can you believe I began listening to classical music at age 5? Honestly, I even remember one of the songs by heart, Whos Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? After I searched the song online, it has been covered by artists from all genres. These artists range from Ben Bernie, an American jazz violinist, to LL Cool J, a rapper.
Moving right along, I can also remember my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Lovett, allowing us to bring our favorite albums to school. After lunch, we would vote on which album we wanted to hear and she would play it for us. The most popular song out back then was Devos Whip It.
In the fourth grade, I learned to play the clarinet. Our music teacher was mobile. When he arrived, we were allowed to leave our current class to take music. I cant remember his name, but he was the first one to help me learn my music notes. Back then, my Auntie Kay loaned me a clarinet, which had been in her family for years. So, all I had to buy were reeds.
In the fifth and sixth grades, Mrs. Guy would visit the Bibb County Public Schools and would give us hands-on demonstrations with various musical instruments. Then, we would sing from music books with instrumental sounds playing from a record player. So, during my sixth grade year I auditioned for the lead part of Heidi in the school musical The Pied Piper, singing one of the songs we had learned from our music books. And, I was chosen for the part!
During middle school, I wasnt really involved in any music programs. However, during high school, I found my way back through dancing in the band and singing in the chorus. Those were some very exiting moments.
Our parents had to order our uniforms. Sometimes, my mother would make my uniform, like one year during Cherry Blossom Festival time. It was a pink skirt with pink apron strings attached as suspenders. The boys wore black pants. All of the chorus had to wear white shirts with our uniforms. One of the songs we sang was, Ill be With You in Cherry Blossom Time.
As an adult, music still plays a key role in my life, from a night out at the symphony to attending a head-bobbing hip-hop concert. This month is Music in Our Schools Month. Its very important for us to continue to use music and other disciplines of the arts to motivate our youths academic drive.
Yolanda Y-O Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macons representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.