Last night, I went to a company party for the Christmas Caroling group I’m a member of. Since the company’s season is during Christmas, the team gets together to celebrate at the beginning of February.
The group celebrated another successful year, told some stories about our various experiences bringing Christmas cheer to the public, and had dinner together. We also had a business meeting to discuss ways to do an even better job next year, and the group solicited suggestions for new selections to add and a few new arrangements for some of the existing songs.
During dinner, I was speaking with a few singers about what they’d been doing over the past few months. One of the members told me about how he played the bagpipes for a police funeral. This got me to thinking: there’s almost no limit to the types of events in life that people hire musicians to play for.
I sipped my wine and thought about the various types of events people like to have music at. From the very early stages of life, music surrounds us and punctuates certain seasons and events in our lives.
For example, most weddings have music in some form, and often in multiple forms (live organ or piano music, live singing, background music played during the reception, songs played for the father-daughter dance, or the couple’s first dance together, etc.)
After a child is born, some parents might take their child to a church service for dedication, or christening, which likely has singing of some sort. As children get older, they often play an instrument in the school band or join the school choir.
Each year we get older, our friends sing us a song to celebrate our birthday. Some families will hold a bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, or quinceanera, which all feature music.
At the end of high school and college, graduation ceremonies have music playing—with a particular type of song announcing the weighty change in life stage.
In some sports, specific songs are played when an athlete walks onto the field. College sports teams often have a “fight song” played by a marching band. Many games feature a singer performing a national anthem—a county’s official song.
Glee clubs and a capella groups are fun extracurricular activities for many students. Radio shows use “bump music” to announce the return of a show after a commercial break. Many TV shows have a theme song. Churchgoers often sing in the choir. Movies are often as famous for their musical score or soundtrack as they are for the movie itself.
After a few years of marriage, couples will often mark their anniversary by playing or dancing to “their song.”
On and on it goes. Even at the end of our lives, when we die—we’re still surrounded by music. Funerals often feature a live singer, or special background music playing. And as my friend reminded me, funeral processions frequently have live bands playing.
I think it fascinating that music surrounds so much of what we do, and follows us throughout our lives, all the way until our lives are over. Even after we’re gone, our friends and family might think of a tune we used to sing or hum, or a hear a song on the radio that has lyrics that remind them of us.
Music is an inseparable and inescapable part of our lives, and that’s a beautiful thing.