Music & Laughter Keeps Precious Memories Alive

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Recently, I sorted through hundreds of pieces of my mother’s sheet music and music lesson books.
She’s been gone almost 60 years, and I thought I had forgotten her voice.
But, looking through the sheet music I see and hear her again.

Mom was a flapper girl (look it up) in the 20’s.

She was runner-up harmonica champion of Philadelphia, in her age group at 14.
I still have her favorite harmonica.

Smart, exuberant, tres chic, and supremely organized.
So well-organized that we called her “the General”.

The music she loved lives inside of me, and so does she.
The more I scan the pages of sheet music, the clearer she becomes.
In full color, full voice, and full energy.

The pages are dry and tattered at the edges.
When I try to turn the pages, some of them turn to dust at my fingertips.
(I’m amazed, however, at how well the Scotch Tape has held up!)We’ve kept cartons of sheet music and toted them lovingly to every place I’ve lived.
It’s time to do some letting go.
Most are set to be gone on the next trash day.
But, some are far too precious to let go of.

This music was implanted in my brain from birth.
The nostalgia is powerful, my gratitude overflowing.
When I was growing up, many of the pieces were visually prominent every day on the music stand of the Baby Grand in our living room.
She played that music over and over, classical, ragtime, boogie-woogie, popular.

I was enchanted by the graphic design of the sheet music covers.
The fonts.
The images.
I thrill at seeing them again.

Her notations of chords, key changes, and embellishments are there in her familiar distinctive handwriting.
Her signature and a date appear on almost every piece.

Much of it is the popular music of the 1920’s and 30’s.
Show tunes and movie songs.
Award-winners, classical, and just plain favorites.

Accompanied by her playing we often joined in, singing, laughing, exaggerating emotions, donning impromptu costumes.

Sister (Phyllis), Dad (Jack) , and I were regaled by her upbeat version of VARSITY DRAG.
She signed the sheet music in her maiden name: Shirley Kalter, Oct 1927.
“Down on your heels and up on your toes” was the thing to do in the hit song for the Varsity Drag. Here’s the 1930 movie version


Her heartfelt rendition of LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH, turned out to be prohestic for me. It, too is, signed in her maiden name: Shirley Kalter 7/22/28.
Here is William F. Wirges and His Orchestra playing “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” on Brunswick 3910, recorded March 30, 1928. Vocal is by Irving Kaufman. 

Most of the melodies and lyrics easily jog my memory now.
They are stored in my brain as wonderful emotionally loaded keepsakes that open kaleidoscopically in my mind.
I’m saving many of the pages so that you can show them to me later.
When my memory gets too weak, I know that my heart will be so happy.

Laughter, humor, and music are core components of laughter therapy. Health, happiness, and resilience through learned optimism happen when laughter and humor are used together correctly. This is taught in the laughter therapy course, “How to Create Therapeutic Laughter.” Join us for a workshop in 2018.