Childhood Musical Experiences in Rural Tennessee

Childhood Musical Memories in Rural Tennessee:

M.H.: My mother played the piano, and in fact, she won one, one time, from a contest, when she was sixteen years of age. So, she taught us all how to play the piano. Even when I was growing up, we had the piano and an old fashioned pump organ, and everybody in my family played something. My father played a banj–not a banjo, but it’s like a violin.

ME: A fiddle?

M.H.: Yeah, that’s it. And we would have like a hoedown, they called them. Where men would be playing guitars, bass, and fiddles and stuff. That was our entertainment. We made our entertainment. Because we had no electricity, before radio and TV, and that would come many years later. So everyone in my family was able to take lessons from mother, and play the piano, and fiddle. But it just wasn’t my thing. I had to practice in a room that had no fire in the winter time, and those keys are cold, so I didn’t love it. I didn’t succeed, but I had a brother and a sister that could sit down and play anything if they wanted to, you know. And my father was a four-note singer, he was in a quartet that only sung four notes, and he went all over the country in the summer time, for all day singings and stuff like that. But that was very rare, you didn’t have very much singing there outside of church.

ME: At that time, there were much more interactions with others, and that’s how entertainment was.

M.H.: Oh yes, yes, always. ME: Now, many people are entertained by themselves.

M.H.: Radio and TV.

ME: Yes, and computers.

M.H. In fact, let’s see. In 1943, I was a teenager, and I went to work during the war, at a plant called Continental Radio & Television. Now there was no such thing as a television, you heard of it, but nobody could buy one. But this plant where I worked, they had one in the laboratory, experimenting with it, and I got to see it.



M.H. recalls the type of musical entertainment that she received in the years of her youth on a rural Tennessee farm, which had been her family’s home for a number of generations. They were poor, yet they managed to have a piano, an organ, and sufficient musical practice. Then, the implications of modern entertainment are discussed, such as the mediums of television, computers, and radio. I believe that entertainment nowadays, for many people in the west, has become gradually more isolated over the decades, with each new electronic innovation rooting out previous practices in a number of ways. Then, when the internet finally became popular by the year 2000, entertainment had changed for this modern era. I personally spend much of my time using computers, whether for work or for entertainment, so I am effectively a part of this relatively new system that has been in place for the past fifteen years, and longer for some others. I know that my family had access to the internet with a Windows 95, and then a Windows 98, which I think started for us around 1997 or 1998, and we ended up buying both computer models. To this day however, because of a very musical upbringing, myself, having been taught skills, I still enjoy playing the piano and other keyboard instruments. I am grateful to have an opportunity to personally create music, experiencing even to myself, although it is very often that others get to hear it. Music is a past time that is capable of uniting individuals, indeed.