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We drove through Kentucky yesterday, headed for the homeschool convention in Cincinnati.

On the way to Cincinnati 061

We stopped at Wendy’s in Mount Vernon. Decorating its walls were three historic images about local country music. Ray reminded me that we were near Renfro Valley.

Since 1939, people have enjoyed live music on Saturday evenings at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. When radio was a popular source of entertainment, more listened to the barn dance by radio.

One of the images decorating the wall at Wendy’s was this advertisement for a musical program by A.P. Carter and the Carter family.

On the way to Cincinnati 005 Carter Family Ad Country Music Kentucky edited
Notice that the third line from the bottom says:
“The Program is Morally Good.”

The Carters were pioneers in recording country music. Perhaps you have heard of “Mother Maybelle” Carter or perhaps her daughter June Carter who married country music legend Johnny Cash. Maybelle Carter was married to A.P.’s brother. I hope you have heard their wonderful renditions of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” or “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

I grew up just twenty miles from Nashville, Tennessee, otherwise known as “Music City USA.” Music was always part of my life. From the time I was a baby, I heard beautiful acappella four-part harmony at church. As a young girl, I especially loved hearing the bass voices in “Lead Me Gently Home, Father.”

Daddy was a big fan of country music. Once he took us to a live radio show. The only guests were our little family inside a small 1960s radio studio, probably WSM, but I don’t remember for sure. Daddy bought record albums and once he took us to the Grand Ole Opry in the old Ryman Auditorium. We even got to see the old time country comedian String Bean.

At home Daddy listened to country music all night long on the radio. For most of my childhood, my bedroom was next to my parents’, so I went to sleep to country music and, if I woke up, I could hear it any time of the night.

I’m not a big fan like Daddy was. I find many country music lyrics offensive, but I do love to hear “morally good” songs. Our town has a live country music and bluegrass show every second Saturday. We attend rarely, but when we do, it is a treat to hear today’s homegrown talent there in the foothills of the Appalachians.

Music was important in our homeschool. In church we sang many of the same acappella hymns I sang as a child. We used to “do P.E.” to the songs on my Oak Ridge Boys album. Each of our children took piano lessons for a short time. John taught himself guitar and a little fiddling. Mary Evelyn and John wrote songs. Bethany took voice lessons for many years. After she graduated from high school, she formed and taught a chorus of homeschoolers called Shining Stars.

Our grandchildren love music, too. While we were in Missouri, we got to observe Henry in his music class. On Sunday little Eva “sang” along with the congregation. Yesterday when we got to the convention hall to set up for this weekend, Clara began to sing, “Good Morning! It’s a brand new day!” from the play she was in last December.

Today music can seem a bit too familiar. We hear so much music against our will–in restaurants, in stores, coming from other people’s cell phones. It’s still worth the effort to make good music, especially live music, a part of your homeschool. It isn’t hard to find free or inexpensive ways to introduce your children to live music.

We have a friend who gives a free organ concert each year on the large pipe organ at our local university. He saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a young teenager and decided he wanted to play the organ. He is a retired physics professor, but for fun he plays the organ. Churches give free concerts, too, as do teachers of private music students and music majors in universities. I have heard of one city symphony which sold low price tickets to practice sessions.

I encourage you to give your children the joy of music.

All the earth will worship You,
And will sing praises to You;
They will sing praises to Your name.
Psalm 66:4, NASB


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