Our family tree is largely populated with average people. They were mostly poor, tough, Scotch-Irish frontier people on my side. We just missed some famous people. My tree boasts Belle Starr’s half-sister and Daniel Boone’s second cousin. Lisa’s side has a lot of hard-working Germans and three Mayflower passengers. These are salt of the earth people. When you think about it, what would it really mean for us to be directly descended from the most famous people in history? 1 out of every 200 Asian males living today is directly descended from Genghis Khan but it does not necessarily make them wealthy or the conquerors of Asia. Like us, they have to make their own way in the world.
There are talents that do get passed down from generation to generation. Some people are born to run fast, lift heavy weights, or paint. In our family the legacy is music. We have no professional musicians in the family, just amateurs. Our paternal tree includes my garage band, my father who was a tenor soloist, his aunt who reputedly had a five octave range, my grandfather who aspired to be a professional fiddle player, and his father before him who was a member of a quartet. Beyond that, I know nothing. Our maternal side includes my wife’s gospel piano, and her grandparents who used to perform around the countryside whistling. What a shame it would be not to introduce our children to music.
Lisa and I have not gotten everything right as parents, but I know we got it right when we decided to raise our children deliberately. (They will grow up whether you raised them with a plan or not.) Children with musical talent may never realize their potential if they are not given the opportunity any more than they will develop a religion to which they have never been exposed. As the kids got older we signed them up for lessons in playing musical instruments. If you visit our house today you might see my mother’s grand piano, several acoustic guitars, a bass, a 1939 Gibson ES-150, a mandolin, a dulcimer, a banjo, a ukulele, several violins, a viola, and a cello. We took some of them out of their protective cases, hanging them on hooks on the wall so the kids might notice them as they walk by and pick one up and play it.
We also have sought out opportunities to get our children involved with singing. I used to sing to the children in utero. Both of us raised the kids amidst silly songs we spontaneously made up about bath time and stinky burritos. Our schools have very strong music programs and we have taken every opportunity to get the kids on stage that has come along. They love to perform. Whatever else they do, they will be involved in amateur music even without our prodding. To me that means that we have successfully transferred the family legacy to the next generation.
Doug is a high school history teacher that loves conducting research in dusty old libraries as well as online databases. He loves taking something unappreciated or discarded and making something useful out of it. He and Ben have a mutual respect for Indiana basketball and vintage things. You can catch more of his history stories on Instagram @Dugsdigs