Nola Carnine teaches music at Kinnikinnick School. Shes come full circle: This is where she went to middle school.
Im about fourth generation Roscoe person, she said.
The cappuccino machine at Megs Daily Grind in Roscoe was loud this Saturday. The aroma was heavenly.
Ive known Nola for 10 years. Shes our church organist. We became fast friends, but I hadnt asked her about her music.
When I was a preschooler, there was a piano in my folks garage, an old upright. I would go out there and make up songs. (There was) the funeral for…J.F.K..then the inauguration for Johnson. They were playing Hail to the Chief over and over. So I went out and played Hail to the Chief. That was my first tune. I was playing by ear.
Her parents listened to her church organist, Florence Sugars.
Get the kid piano lessons and get the piano tuned so you dont ruin her ear. You want to have her listening to things that are in tune.
Thank you, Mom. I dont think I would have gone as far as I did without the encouragement of my mom and without the encouragement of the church.
Did they upgrade your piano?
I had my first lesson during the week. We went on the weekend and bought a piano. Of course, I could only play my two greatest hits: Hail to the Chief and Blowin in the Wind, my special with two hands. I had made up accompaniment with a harmony part with my left hand for Blowin in the Wind because that was on the radio all the time (then).
Sounds like you were a close family.
They were very supportive…always interested in finding music for me. By the same token, I kind of monopolized the piano away from my sisters. If they had had any ability, I was too selfish. I wasnt able to share.
Youre the oldest?
And I was very bossy to them.
In high school, Nola decided to become a high school band director.
I couldnt think of anything else I was interested enough in to pursue.
Megs cappuccino machine was roaring again. I wanted a refill.
Teaching kids is a big responsibility.
I think its really big. Ive had adults come back and tell me, when theyre at conferences, and theyre supposed to be talking about their kidsthey all have this baggage about some teacher who has told them that they couldnt sing when they were little. I dont think some teachers realize that if youre so pickylike I was to my sistersyou can hurt people more than you know. Ive had many, many adults, especially men, say, My teacher said I couldnt sing, and I never sang again. They just turned off that part of their brain.
But you encourage and inspire your students.
Thats what I hope.
How did you start playing the organ?
We had an organ at church…I really didnt like the sound of…didnt even have it played at my wedding. I went to Arizona…and visited Organ Stop Pizza. They had a Wurlitzer theater organ connected to a grand piano…a train, car horns, and cymbals…everything you could think of. You could sit and eat pizza, and this person would play the organ. We were just thrilled. We bought all of their records. It was hilarious. After the Arizona trip…I found out I liked the sound of the instrument itself because it was a pipe organ. All Id ever heard was electronic organs. Hearing a pipe organ doing the Bach D Minor Toccata, da-na-na, she mimicked the scary movie sound. Its not going to inspire you unless you want to be creepy on Halloween.
We talked about budget cuts, cutting music from the curriculum.
Its like cutting out part of my heart. I dont know enough about politics to be able to fix it, so it just aches. There are so many studies…about the brain. Its not just opinion. Listening to music, playing…performing music, helps your brain. Doing music, youre actually increasing neuro-pathways.
Some people say music doesnt do much for them, I said.
Nola had wisdom for this.
If you turned all the music off their TV…just had the words, and if you turned off their movies, and just had the actions, and had only news on the radio, and didnt have the music, didnt have the music when youre getting ready in the morning, when youre cleaning your garage, or when you want to exercise, I think, then, you would realize that something is missing.
Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.
From the June 22-28, 2005, issue