A Tradition of Making Music
Music is an important part of everyone’s Christmas, whether it’s Christmas carols at the church Christmas program, watching a rerun of White Christmas, or the incessant Muzak playing at the malls.
As a singer and musician, Christmas music is an especially important part of my Christmas. I have been making music for the holidays since I was a teenager playing the organ in a little Baptist church, and music continues to be an important part of my Christmas celebration every year.
I’ve made Christmas music everywhere I’ve been invited. In that small church; at the school where I taught for many years; in the televised choir of a large suburban congregation; in the back of a truck on a Christmas caroling hayride; on a barge floating down the San Antonio River with the Boy Scouts; for church senior groups; and in the dining rooms and halls of nursing homes.
My opportunities to make Christmas music grew exponentially when I learned to play the dulcimer and ukulele and joined The San Antonio Riverpickers, a mountain music band that features dulcimers and old-time Appalachian tunes. Also, I’m a member of Ukulele Ladies and Gents, which plays all kinds of music, including lots of island songs. With these two groups, I have expanded my holiday repertoire beyond the usual Christmas carols and radio and movie songs. Also, I’ve found myself playing in venues that are an adventure in and of themselves.
Riverpickers does a lot of street festivals around the holidays, most notably Christmas in Comfort and Dickens on Main in Boerne. We mix in a few Christmas numbers, but play mostly mountain tunes, as few carols sound all that good on a dulcimer. Our audience seems to enjoy the old mountain tunes as much as they do the carols.
Playing for a street festival can get interesting in terms of weather. We’ve played on a stage facing a setting sun (yes blinding), and under chilly cloud cover with rain threatening. We’ve played in the heat; this is Texas after all, and it can still be hot in December. We’ve played in the cold. Really cold. Our record cold-weather performance was an hour-long set in Boerne a few years back. The sun had gone down, it was twenty-nine degrees and the wind was blowing. It was so cold the instruments all had to be retuned, not a problem unless you play a hammered dulcimer with forty-plus strings. (My fingers burned for a solid hour afterward.) Afterward, we promised ourselves we’d never play below forty degrees, but honestly, I don’t think it would stop us. Street festivals are too much fun to pass up.
The ukulele group is the complete opposite. We stay inside where it’s nice and warm (or cool depending on the temps), and play Hawaiian Christmas music, complete with hula dancers and red and green Aloha shirts. And, we sing in Hawaiian. Of course, we do the traditional Christmas songs too. The ukulele group plays at many different places, including churches and libraries, and a lot of nursing homes. Although we play somewhere every month, the holidays tend to be our busy season. So far, we have one performance scheduled right before Thanksgiving and four during December. So far.
Making all the performances can get hectic in an already jam-packed holiday season. Occasionally my husband and I must skip a party or another event to play and sing, but making music, especially Christmas music, deeply enriches our holidays.
♪ ♫ ♬ I cannot imagine Christmas without music. ♪ ♫ ♬
P.S. The guitar strap in the photo lights up. How fun is that?
The Smokey Blues
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: November 20th 2017
ISBN: 978-1-979474-24-5 – print book
ISBN: 978-1-944262-99-0 - eBook
Number of pages: 227
Word Count: 65,450
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
Tagline: Can the holiday season turn make-believe into real passion, love and romance?
Aspiring songwriter Caitlyn Murphy is tired of sister’s hand-me-downs. From toys and bicycles to men, it seemed like everything in Caitlyn’s life first belonged to her late sister. Roped into doing Christmas for motherless nieces, and entering into a pretend romance with their dangerously attractive father, Caitlyn soon finds herself falling in love with the girls, and the enigmatic Tanner Dyson. She resists the temptation and Tanner’s insistence that they make their pretend relationship real. She wants her own family, not the one her sister had first.
About the Author:
Author of thirty-four romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and six grandsons, she and her husband live in central Texas but frequently visit their grandchildren in Tennessee and Georgia. For relaxation, she plays four musical instruments: the piano, the ukulele, the organ and the dulcimer.