Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Music on the Prairie

I don't have the opportunity to take my violin out much these days, so I recently jumped on an opportunity to do so.

The youth of the church congregations in our region of the state got together last week to recreate a Mormon pioneer handcart trek.  Between 1856 and 1860 nearly 3,000 early members of the church traveled by handcart to the Salt Lake Valley.  This activity was to help the youth gain a greater appreciation and understanding of their pioneer heritage. 

The trek was a three day camping and hiking experience with the youth pulling their supplies in handcarts through the wilderness of a large ranch owned by the church in Oklahoma.  The leaders thought it might be nice for them to have a little bit of entertainment and recreation their second evening.   That's where I and some fellow musicians came in.

We were kind of a rag-tag quartet of a flute, a violin, a banjo and a guitar. 

I had a book of easy fiddling tunes that included guitar chords.  So the flute and violin played the melody (with the flute an octave above) and the guitar and banjo played the chords (the guitar strummed them and the banjo plucked (or picked I don't know their term) the chords.)  And we actually sounded pretty good, especially since we only practiced twice since we all lived in different towns. 

(Owen sneaking around with the camera)
The youth were instructed in some square dancing and we accompanied the dancing and ended with a few hymns.

We dressed in pioneer costume as musicians, since the youth were dressed resembling period costume as well.  I used the underskirt from my steampunk outfit and it worked great. I also had a bonnet, but none of the youth were wearing theirs in the shady evening, so I left it tied on my apron and just wore the headscarf that I had on anyway.

Jeremy and the boys came along as well.  We thought about spending the night there, but in the end decided to continue on that night since it was still light out, and we'd caused enough trouble for one night!  Jeremy wore a variation of his steampunk clothes as well to fit in (with some new suspenders), and my boys looked adorable in brown pants and shoes with long white cotton shirts.

Obviously we get a big kick out of costuming in our little family.  But there is a feeling when you are dressed up that is not there otherwise.  (This fact can be used for good or bad purposes of course.) Historical clothing just really helps you to gain a connection with those that have gone before you.  It aids in your understanding of them and helps aid in the task of learning the good that their experience has to offer us today. 

I loved having the opportunity to provide music in  manner that would have existed back then as well.  Real live music is something that youth don't get as much exposure to these days either.  I was happy to help share my talents to help the youth understand and appreciate the enlivening and uplifting spirit that good music can provide.

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