Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Talented Tuesday - Mama Played The Cornet

The Cornet

I was told I started singing as soon as I could talk. And even as a small child I would take tunes I knew from the television commercials, or favorite shows, and make up my own rhymes for them.

As I grew older, Mom made sure that I got to play whatever musical instrument I wanted to play. I was in the city orchestra at only 13 playing the violin and the viola. At 14 I taught myself to play the guitar. And somewhere in there, Mom enrolled me in a piano class. The teacher pulled my Mom aside after my first lesson and told her she couldn't teach me anything, because I played very well on my own, playing by ear. So, no formal training there. I wanted to play the flute. Mom got me a flute, and I taught myself to play. I sang in the church choir, and in a small trio. I also sang solo. And I wondered where that talent came from.

Daddy used to play the guitar, when I was really young. He wasn't formally taught, but he could make it sing! And he could sing! Oh my! Daddy had, and still does, have a beautiful voice! He doesn't share it except at the holidays when we get to singing some of the old carols, or if we get together impromptu and begin singing hymns.

And there was Mama. Poor Mommy. She tried to sing. She really did. But she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket if you carried the bail for her! She just couldn't do it. Which is why what happened that summer shocked me so much!

I was 12 and Mom and I had gone to a music store to pick up a set of strings for my violin. They didn't carry a lot of new  instruments, but that didn't matter, we were only after strings. And maybe resin for the bow, can't recall though. But what happened next just about knocked me off my feet.

Mom had walked over to a table that had dented up brass instruments on it, all marked down to ridiculous prices. The store owner told Mom if she saw something on that table she liked, he'd let her have it for half of the already knocked down price. Mom, being the lady she was, simply said, "Thank you, but I'm just looking." I paid for my strings, and walked over to where Mommy was running her hands over what I thought was a trumpet.

"No, honey, that's a cornet," she corrected me. I repeated it back to her, only it came out like "c-o-r-o-n-e-t".

"No, Cyndi, just one 'O'. Like corn-et."

The owner walked over and he saw the instrument Mom was touching.

"Yeah, it's a sad thing that old cornet will never be able to be played again. It's just too beat up. I'll probably have to scrap it" the owner said.

"Why?" Mom asked him. "Just because the horn is beaten up doesn't mean it can't make beautiful music!"

You could have knocked me over with a feather when my Mom put that cornet to her lips and played the most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace that I think I have ever heard! It wasn't something from TV. It wasn't someone else. It wasn't a church friend. This was MY MOM!

She played through the hymn twice. Then she laid the cornet back onto the table. "Thank you," she told the owner.

His mouth was hanging open about as much as my own was.

Mom was embarrassed that she'd given way to her showing this gift she had. She blushed, something that you never saw my Mom do! You simply could not embarrass her that much!

She took me by the hand and pulled me from the store, and as we were going out the door, I looked back and the owner called out, "Thank you and come again any time!"

When an aneurysm robbed my Mom of many of her memories, she remembered playing the cornet in her school band. But she kept saying she didn't play very well. When I told her I thought she played beautifully, she didn't remember the incident in the music store. She was certain she would never have done such a thing! "Oh, I never played well enough to play in front of anyone!" she would tell me.

Mom passed away almost 2 years ago. But 45 years ago, my Mom proved to me that you should never judge something by what it looks like. You know, never judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, an instrument just because it was dented up. It's the musician that makes the music great, and not the instrument.

Whenever I recall the time my Mom proved you didn't have to be able to sing to play an instrument, I am reminded of the old poem, "The Touch of The Master's Hand". Unfortunately, I've never been able to find who wrote it, so I cannot give credit to whom it is owed, I can only say that it is lovely, and I leave you with it today:

The Touch of The Master's Hand

'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while

To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.

"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"

"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"

"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No,

From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,

Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,

He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.

"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"

"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."

"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."

"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.

He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.

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