Monday, February 13, 2012

On Talent and Whitney Houston

When it comes to music I consider myself to be moderately talented.  Unfortunately, this is coupled with the fact that I am also highly unmotivated, so any hope of charging my way through the entire collection of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos as though the sheet music were laid out like Chopsticks has pretty much been left sitting on the piano bench, staring at the keys.  Darn Think System, it did nothing for my skill level.  I blame Harold Hill.

So it's lucky for me that I don't have to rely solely on my own skills for musical enjoyment.  Especially because all of my children are morally opposed to my sitting at the piano for any reason.  I hit one note and they come from every corner of the house to bang on the keys and fight over who gets the extra space on the piano bench.  If If I blow the dust off of the Eva Cassidy songbook and attempt to open my mouth, Michael says, "Mom, stop singing.  I don't like it when you sing."  Ah, kids.  Raising parental self-esteem since the beginning of time.

But they love music.  They gather around the computer whenever I turn on a music video.  They ask me to replay their favorite songs over and over until I have to declare my quota for certain songs to be full for the day.  And our bedtime routine of family singing time could go on for hours if we would let it.

So Saturday night, when we heard the sad news that Whitney Houston had died, I wanted to play some of her songs for my kids.  I have always thought that when God was sprinkling his salt shaker of talents over his children, the lid must have fallen off over Whitney.  She was so beautiful and so gifted, and it is so tragic that her voice and her life were destroyed because she could not break her addictions.  But thanks to modern technology, we can still enjoy her as she was in her prime.  So yesterday afternoon David and I pulled out our DVD of her music videos (Yep, we own one) and played it for our kids.  We all danced around the living room to songs like "Step By Step" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and laughed at Whitney's outrageous hair.  We talked to Michael about the Word of Wisdom and why it is important that we don't put bad things into our bodies.  Then David and I slow-danced to "I Believe in You and Me" while all three of our kids stood at our knees, trying to push us apart.  And we all felt grateful.  Grateful to live in an age when we can enjoy the talents of others, when recordings allow us to listen to the world's most beautiful music right in our own home.

After the kids went to bed we even watched part of the Grammys, mostly to catch Adele's post-surgery performance of "Rolling in the Deep" and watch Jennifer Hudson belt out a tribute to Whitney Houston.  Coldplay performed "Paradise" and it made me grateful for YouTube and the fact that even a good song can be improved, or, in this case, turned into something heavenly.

It was the sort of day that made me grateful for the talents that have been given to others. 

And we could all use a day like that, now and then.