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Music, Teaching, Writing

Last night in my Issues in Children’s Literature class at Queens College, a teacher described how she plays Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” throughout the school year & ties in lessons & activities. She said that her students love the whole experience. I love the idea!

I grew up in a musical family (raised one, too): I remember going to sleep to the sounds of my father, Norman Morgan, playing the piano. My mother, Maritza Morgan, played the cello & was the music editor at the Chautauquan Daily, the newspaper for Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, for years. My tastes range from country (love Dolly) to soul/blues to classical–right now I’m listening to a new recording of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto–so gorgeous, perfect antidote to worrying about the state of the country & the world.

There’s a sound track for everything I’ve ever written, i.e., I write to music. What kind? Depends & I never know until some mysterious process kicks in & the “right” music “reveals” itself to me. And I mean mysterious, e.g. I’m writing Stirring to Nanci Griffith’s CD “Clock without hands.” Here’s what’s mysterious about that: I’ve never particularly responded to her music. In fact, I only have that CD because it has her song, “Pearl’s Eye View (The Life of Dickey Chapelle),” one of the women I wrote about in Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II. (My son Jonathan told me about the song.) In April, I had retrieved the CD to include it in “Celebrating Women,” my PowerPoint presentation about my 20-year quest for monuments, markers, and memorial to historic women. During a multi-tasking moment, I was listening to it & working on Stirring & they glommed (now there’s a good Scrabble word). Now, in a Pavlovian way, when I’ve carved out writing time–I put on “Clock without hands” & play it over and over and over until my writing time is up. Note: Recently for my b-day, my son David & his wife Crystal gave me Emmylou Harris’s CD “All I Intended To Be”–hummmm, Emmylou may nudge Nanci aside–I’ll keep you posted.

I’ll write another post detailing the sound track for my other books. During school visits, I used to bring a tape of 4 excerpts & 4 books & ask kids to listen & match the excerpt with the book. It was always lively & fun. Not sure why I stop, probably because I like to keep myself, thus my presentations, fresh.

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