Monday, 15 September 2014

It's Music to my Ears

Music was a big part of my life growing up.  My Granny lived in a small 4 room cold-water flat in Verdun, but still made room for her piano. Granny went to school at a convent and was taught to play piano by the nuns. She played piano during hymn-sing for her ladies church group. When I was about 6-7 Granny gave her piano to my Mom, and the next fall I started Royal Conservatory piano lessons. My teacher was very strict, rapping my hands with her pencil every time a made a mistake. My mother also took piano lessons, and my older brother took accordion lessons.  When my little brother was old enough he started piano lessons too, and that year at the annual recital we did a piano trio. When I became a teenager I wanted to learn the songs on the radio and my teacher was appalled!  So I quit the lessons after Grade 7 and figured out my favourite songs myself on our piano at home. I painstakingly put every note on the staff, changing this one or that one, until I got it written down just right. Our piano sat in a nook off the living room, beside a floor to ceiling window and it was a haven for my emotional ups and downs during my teen years, putting it all in the music. I also learned from a friend how to play the ukulele, and this I would play on long family trips in the car.

When my grandparents came to visit, Granny would play the piano and I loved listening to her sing.  Everyone would gather around and sing along, especially Grampa with his big booming voice.  She started off with her favourite hymns then went to my Grampa's and Mom's favourite war songs. Sometimes my parents' friends would come over and then it would be old English pub songs. What a time we had!

On my Dad's side of the family, his 2 brothers both played the piano. When they were young they lived upstairs from a piano teacher who gave them lessons. My Dad always wished he could play, but he just didn't have the knack. His talent was carpentry. Every year around Christmas time the Seale's would get together and after eating we would all gravitate to the piano and start with singing Carols, and move on to the popular songs. 

I inherited the ear for music, but unfortunately not the discipline or the talent. That means I can hear mistakes but can't help making them *sigh*. At my grade 6 exams I barely passed the practical, while getting First Class Honours on the theory. If you have an ear for music, you can probably learn languages easier, which I always like to do.

Do you have an ancestor that attended a music school? Following are a few links to music schools and programs, many having a roll of students in the back. You can also check for info on historical music schools at the local library.

UPDATE:  After writing this article in preparation to upload on Monday, I learned today (Friday) that the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music has received a gift of $2.8M for training teachers to teach music in schools. FABULOUS! Read about it here.

Relevant Links

The Montreal Conservatory of Music 1899

Toronto Conservatory of Music Year Book 1914

Yearbook - Royal Conservatory of Music 1918 and 1920 

Graduates, 1881-1953 Philadelphia Musical Academy

School of Music - Wallace College - Berea, Ohio 1908

Ward-Belmont School Conservatory of Music Catalogue 1929

Alabama College Bulletin: School of Music 1924

Alabama Technical Institute and College for Women Bulletin: Proceedings of the First Annual Music Conference for the State of Alabama, Feb 1920 

The School of Music of Ripon College, Wisc 1910

Brigham University Music Program 1948

Bulletin of School of Music, Saint Clara College, Wisc: 1910

School of Music, Northwestern University, Evanston, ILL

Lebanon Valley College Catalogue: Department of Music Bulletin - PA

Calendar and Syllabus:  Toronto College of Music - 1909

Catalogue of the Oxford College of Music, Ohio 1910

Hardin College and Conservatory of Music - Mexico, Missouri 1911

Southern Presbyterian College and Conservatory of Music Catalogue - NC 1910

Music Bulletin, Loyola University, New Orleans

Ontario Ladies' College and Ontario Conservatory of Music and Art, Whitby 1911

Yearbook, Philadelphia Conservatory of Music - 1947

Undergraduate Students of the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music IN- OPUS

New England Conservatory of Music - The Neume

American Theatre's carnival for Britain organized by the American Theatre Wing of the British War Relief Society, Incorporated : Radio City Music Hall – 1941

Souvenir programme : Grand Festival, Carnival, Kermesse and Concert held at Mechanics Pavilion, San Francisco, February 25th to March 2d, 1895 : for the benefit of the New French Hospital

The history of the Royal Academy of Music w/ biographical sketches

Royal Normal College and Academy of Music for the Blind (1873 and +)

Opera singers : a pictorial souvenir, with biographies of some of the most famous singers of the day – 1901

Related Post: School's Out


  1. Loved this. I grew up in a small house filled with music...from the many instruments that Dad played and Mum's beautiful voice singing aling with him. We still fill our house with music now, but from everything from old 78s to musical dvds ana all in between. We also have a pianola, which we don't use often enough.. You revived lovely memories, Dianne. Thank you.

    1. I remember as a kid singing a made up song in the car and my brother telling me I was off key. I wondered how I could be off key if *I made up the song? Now I know Hahaha
      Your small house must have been full of love. Thanks for visiting and sharing.


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