Slice of Life: Musical Memories


Yesterday, Stacey wrote about singing lullabies to her daughter. Her post got me thinking about songs I sang to my kids, and songs from my own childhood. My boys are grown, but I have fond memories of the lullabies that were part of their bedtime routine.

When my children were babies, I sang to them all the time, and we quickly developed a bedtime playlist. And because we camped with my husband’s family quite often, my nieces loved these songs, too. In fact, Kelly asked me to sing them when we were all on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon when she was thirteen!

Not surprisingly, most of the songs I sang to them were ones I had loved as a child. My parents had different tastes in music, but there was no question that they both loved it. We had a small portable record player on a metal stand in the dining room, and on Saturday mornings, my mother played her Glenn Miller records while she cleaned. She listened to other big bands and singers from the forties, but Glenn was definitely her favorite. Soundtracks, especially “The Sound of Music,” also got played frequently. My father, on the other hand, was a country and western fan. I have a lot of Marty Robbins and Jim Reeves songs in my head. The songs my parents played throughout my childhood influenced my own musical tastes. I love harmonies and ballads, and never really loved rock.

Alzheimer patients can often remember songs from their youth better than the names of their grandchildren. Educators have know for years that music helps students memorize rote material. (Think Schoolhouse Rock) Sometimes, just the first few notes of a song transport us back to the time we first heard it. I remember when I first heard She & Him, tears came to my eyes. Their retro sound automatically brought me back to that sun-drenched dining room of the 60s, listening to that little blue record player.

I can’t remember when I stopped singing to my kids, and I could never choose just one song as my favorite. But, of all the songs my parents shared with me, and that I shared with my children, there is one that sums up my wish for them as they make their way in the world.

Dancing with Brian to "The Five Pennies" at his wedding.
Dancing with Brian to “The Five Pennies” at his wedding.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each day during the month of March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

(This slice is a modified version of a post from 2012. You can read the original here.)

16 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Musical Memories

  1. OH wow- tears in my eyes as I looked at the picture of you dancing with your handsome son to the song you sang to him as a baby. This was so moving. The love in that picture is breath-taking and as a mom to a four year old boy, I get choked up just envisioning that future scene in my life. I agree with you so much about music and the power it has for our own kids and our students. As a kindergarten teacher, music was an important part of our morning meeting and I had songs for days of the week, months of the year, and counting. Music helps you learn and also taps into your emotions, which also increases learning. I have many memories of the music my parents would play when I was young- Judy Collins, Dolly Parton, Everly Brothers. Hearing those songs now instantly brings me back to a simpler time and floods me with feelings of love and comfort. Thanks so much for sharing this slice.


  2. I have tears streaming down my face. I too read Stacy’s post yesterday and was thinking about writing about music and my own now grown children. I popped the note in my reminder box, As a mom and as a teacher, I too have witnessed the magic of voice and how it calms the soul. Wonderful post!


  3. Loved your post. Glen Miller was a favorite for us, too. In The Mood – Classic. So many memories about music. Great post.
    Darla & Jen


  4. Wiping away tears. Throughout childhood i watched musicals and old movies with Danny Kaye, Carey Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn to name a few. I shared the music of and those movies with daughters growing up and they still of big fans. I never heard or saw The 5 Pennies. It is next on my play list. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.


  5. Wow, you really brought back memories, Catherine. I had forgotten all about that Danny Kaye movie & the song. Beautifully nostalgic to see your pic dancing with your son at his wedding. Songs and music make lovely memories, don’t they? The ones I have in my head are definitely Peter Paul & Mary songs like The Marvelous Toy. We were able to see them with front row seats when our kids were little, special memory in my mind. Thanks for this special post.


  6. Songs can be such great connectors. I remember the hours we spent on the mother -son dance selection. . . it was great fun and our reasons for choosing or not choosing (“You will only cry”) were absolutely hilarious now in retrospect!


  7. What a beautiful, moving piece. Music certainly is a powerful tool in evoking memories. Your memories brought back my own of singing in the car during family road trips. My dad always singing the loudest. Thank you for sharing your touching moments with us.


  8. Beautiful sentiment here about song and its’ power to sooth, bring back memories, and to bring happiness to others. I appreciate how you connected the slice to your own childhood and that of your children too. Thank you for sharing!


  9. You have touched a sentimental nerve for me today. Oh, I am trying hard not to cry. The Danny Kay song and you dancing with your son is so sweet and wonderful, full of love! I had a favorite lullaby and think I should Google it and maybe do a piggyback post. Thanks!


  10. Catherine, you look smashing in your copper gown and isn’t it wonderful that you danced to the song that was part of your family music treasures. It is a beautiful song that I never heard before. I used to sing to my children but I don’t have a good voice and am not musically inclined. Children are not phased by those things. I think they love the mother / child interaction. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Catherine – I LOVE the pic with your son. So beautiful. Thank you for reminding me of the sweetness of singing lullabies and other songs with my children. What beautiful memories.


  12. Your slice moved me deeply. I love how you wove your musical memories through your piece, connecting your parents, you and your children. Thank you so much for sharing.


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