When a family “bands” together…

A typical Saturday for me, as a child,  included a ride with my dad or grandfather  (or both) to a local hall with a trailer full of band equipment in tow. My brother and I would help unload the gear and proceed to ask my uncles (and adopted uncle) a bazillion questions. I am quite sure we drove them crazy, but they never complained. We would try the microphones once they were up and running and enjoy one or two dances as the guys did a sound check. There were parties and dances to attend and jamborees every summer. For me, music has always been a way of life thanks to our family band.

Mozart’s Melody Makers began as a trio including my grandfather, my father (Mozart) and one of his high school buddies. With the addition of a family friend on drums in the early 70’s, the band became a staple at local functions and I do remember my Dad rushing out the door with guitar in hand 3 or 4 evenings each week. As years went on, Dad’s friend went away to school leaving a spot open for my Dad’s younger brother Marc to take over lead-guitar and soon after, their youngest brother Martin was added to the mix. Then,when I was in high school, Grandpa asked me to join them. It was pretty amazing to be a member of a family band that offered over 30 years of entertainment to the communities in Huron-Perth Counties and beyond. My brother and sister also played with us as they became old enough, so by the mid 90’s there were always three generations of Gelinas on the stage.

The times getting together with family to learn new music or polish old material were some of the greatest times of my life. There is just something special about making all of those instruments and vocals come together. It is a sound you can’t recreate without those specific people there. It’s like having a heart to heart with every member of the group without saying a word. You have to trust their abilities to carry you while you carry them. When performing as a group you work together to control the mood and flow of a function. To achieve that, every person in the group has a key role. So, in 2001 after the passing of our bass player and “manager”, my grandfather Mozart Gelinas Sr., it was difficult to continue and the group Mozart’s Melody Makers became a thing of the past.

This summer, after 12 years, Mozart’s Melody Makers got together for a reunion show at the Zurich Bean Festival. 12 years is a long time and I have to be honest, when we first got together to practice we were a little rusty – but by the time the festival rolled around we were sounding like the “good old days”! My 12 yr old son picked up his great-grandpa’s bass and my daughter added some vocals and flute. I was so proud of them.  Boy, what a rush being on stage with my family after all this time…and three generations once again!

I think parents send their children to music lessons for all kinds of reasons, but I wonder if they realize how much they are really giving their children. It isn’t just about learning how to play the piano or the guitar. When a child can work together with others to create music there is a special kind of magic there. Group classes like Music For Young Children classes help children to develop the skill of “playing well with others” from an early age.

On Bean Fest Day I know, without a doubt, that my grandfather was looking down on us with a puffed out chest and a grin from ear to ear. Playing music with his family was everything to him and I bet he was even humming along. I don’t know if Mozart’s Melody Makers will have a repeat performance anytime soon, but I do know I will treasure the memories made this summer and I plan to create more opportunities for my own children and I to makeIMG_0133 music together.  If there is one thing my grandfather and uncles taught me it’s that – ties are pretty strong when a family “bands” together.

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