By JEN SLAYDEN
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
That famous line from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf, rings so true.
As a musician, the holidays are amplified and celebrated around notes and performances. It is a busy time of year for me, playing in a string quartet, my family band, and extra holiday parties where everybody enjoys the fact that music adds to the holiday festivities in a huge way. And each year, as I wander around downtown Missoula, I realize how lucky we are to live in such a musical city.
Last weekend was a great example. I took in the Missoula All-City Orchestra at the mall on Friday night, followed by Family Friendly Friday at the Top Hat. Saturday, I danced and sang with children at a diverse Spontaneous Music by Children. In the afternoon, Fact and Fiction had holiday carolers stop by from the Sweet Adeline’s. I then headed up to Break Espresso where Childbloom Guitar performers wooed the crowd.
So many events and free music! Not only do we have wonderful, diverse, and talented musicians in our hometown, we have the beauty of our own conductor singing sweet songs every day: Mother Nature. I often escape to the Rattlesnake Wilderness in the winter. The simple rhythmic crunch of snow beneath my feet serves up the rhythm of a thousand drums as the sound echoes in the forest. As I head up the main trailhead, I am greeted by the ancient song of Rattlesnake Creek as she dances and flows towards the Clark Fork River.
In my own neighborhood on my side of the mountain, I know the time of day based on the trains that roll by, providing this middle-aged mama with enough whistling to keep me feeling young, even though I know the train conductors are just reminding me to stay the hell out of the way! But I have grown to love that whistle, shifting from high pitch to low as it speeds past heading west to east or back again.
When I hike out behind my house, a new symphony begins. A movement of andante… slower paced. The winds whisper lullabies when I move away from the highway below. I then remember, during this hectic time of year, that music would not be music without the rests.
So, take the time, Missoula, to recharge. Even for a minute or two. Take in the sounds of our beautiful valley, playing a symphony all year long, just for us! And when you are rejuvenated, remember: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
Enjoy this story by Jen Slayden? You might enjoy some of her other musings on life in Missoula: Missoula Moms Test Senator Tester, Missoula is Like Relaxed Fit Jeans, and MissouLOVE: Things That Make Missoula Home.
Jen Slayden is a Missoulian who makes her home on the outskirts of town with three outdoorsy kids, a fly-fishing guide husband, and an outdoors-loving black lab named Cody. She juggles her time teaching music, life coaching, playing music in her family bluegrass band, and taking in all the great recreational and cultural activities that Missoula has to offer. Then, she writes about it all on her own website: Find Your Harmony.