Glass Half Full: Music can teach us to be discerning |

Glass Half Full: Music can teach us to be discerning

Last week, especially, I was grateful for The Pointer Sisters. You know, that trio of sisters who were big in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Described by my new best friend, Pandora, as “as chameleonic as David Bowie,” and always capable of getting my blood running, last week they were the ones who carried me through my very early morning workouts at High Altitude Fitness.

Why this year’s transition to daylight saving was such a particular challenge, I have no idea, but the sentiment was one I heard echoed by many.

Ah, the role of music in our lives! The home in which I was raised was filled with it. Dad always had the “hi fi” playing, mostly jazz or big band.

He was one of the founding members of The Princeton Nassoons, that campus’s first a capella group. I had the supreme pleasure of accompanying him to the 70th reunion of that particular group just after his 90th birthday.

Mostly confined to a motorized wheelchair at that point, Dad was still capable of blasting a solo as part of his decade’s musical set that could be heard in the back row.

Mom had a lovely voice. My brothers and I learned how to harmonize about the same time we learned how to ride horseback, both of which were early. My husband and I were members of a capella groups in college.

Music has long set the tone and provided the background for my life and, I suspect, yours.

Dad and Mom would not have appreciated The Pointer Sisters. Mom would have had the grace not to share her opinion; Dad always felt it was his responsibility to do so.

Our daughters both loved that group. In fact, one of our most memorable concerts as a family was The Sisters at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. A second was Paul Simon during the “Graceland” era.

Certainly, for Wayne and me, a very early ‘70s James Brown performance continues to rank right up at the top of amazing experiences we have shared.

At about nine, daughter Allison could distinguish between Paul McCartney as a Beatle and as a member of Wings.

Music can provide opportunities to cross-generational boundaries. It can evoke memories so vivid that, suddenly, we are back in middle or high school dances (“Sealed with a Kiss, “Twist and Shout,” “Poison Ivy”).

We fell in love to specific songs, broke up to others, bled team colors (“We Are Family”), explored our social consciences (Peter, Paul, and Mary; Bob Dylan), and figured out who we were along the way. We grew up to music.

Generations that have come behind us do the same. It is so easy to dismiss another generation’s music.

While there is music that transcends time (The Beatles, soundtrack from “Grease”), we need to remember that it really doesn’t matter if modern stuff doesn’t appeal to us who are older.

To each his/her own — I’ll take The Pointer Sisters.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at

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