Words are writers' musical notes.
Sentence sounds and rhythms are literature's melodies.
Prose is poetry in paragraph form.
And that is the essence of my writing.
~ Rick D. Niece, Ph.D.
The perfect word in the perfect sentence with the perfect sound and rhythm are my goals in writing. As a writer, word combinations, rhythms, and their resonant sounds are important to me. I think that sensation began subconsciously when I was very young. I was born in Oberlin, Ohio, where my father was a piano and music major at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. From birth to age four, I was exposed daily to the wonders of music performed by the Conservatory�s orchestra and chorus, as well as within our small rented house listening to my father's piano playing and my mother�s singing. I sponged the sounds.
In the words of William Congreve, "Music hath charms to sooth a savage breast." I know that is true. As a student in elementary and high school, and well into my college years while earning three degrees, after I sensed I had done poorly on an exam, I would turn to classical music for comfort. In my case, and with apologies to Mr. Congreve, music hath charms to smooth a ravaged test! The melancholy of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, the exuberance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concertos, and anything of Beethoven�s set me afloat and drifting away from that day's exam calamity.
During my years as a public school and university administrator, my office music systems improved with each decade's latest technology. But through the years, one thing has remained constant: the systems play only classical music. That is my music preference. I firmly believe that the music we were exposed to as infants, and then raised with, becomes our predilection for life. Hence, because of my formative years with my father and mother at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, classical music will be my birth to death companion. That and the infinite influence of my dad.
When I was four, my family left Oberlin and moved to DeGraff, Ohio, a town of 900 citizens and fraternal twin to Lake Wobegon. Life was good for a boy growing up in DeGraff, and my memories of the positive influence the citizens of DeGraff had on me are even better. We moved to DeGraff for my dad to begin his career teaching music to students grades 1-12 in DeGraff's rustic, one-building school. For sixteen years, Dad was the whole show in the school�s music department: directing the concert bands, marching bands, and choruses, while teaching music appreciation courses. Dad taught his students to appreciate all kinds of music, as well as to respect the music we did not care for. (However, with his current disdain for this generation�s music, he seems to have forgotten the lessons he faithfully taught his students so many years ago!)
As a youngster in Dad's concert and marching bands, I played the baritone and trumpet (reading treble clef music), and I sang tenor in chorus. During my freshman and sophomore years at Ohio State University, the baritone and I were in the Grey Concert Band, an ensemble for non-music majors. The Scarlet Concert Band was the more prestigious group, featuring the University's instrumental music majors. But I was proud to be a Grey player.
Music is an essential in my life. I cannot imagine a life without the positive influence of music, and that is why I continue to tout its importance for students today. I am very proud to promote the mission of the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation
by donating $1.00 for each copy sold of The Band Plays On
, the second book in my Fanfare for a Home Town Series
. This Foundation, inspired by the popular motion picture, Mr. Holland's Opus
, donates new and refurbished instruments to school music programs lacking the resources to purchase them. It is a most worthy foundation with a most worthy cause. Felice Mancini, daughter of composer, conductor, and arranger Henry Mancini, serves as President of the Mr. Holland�s Opus Foundation. What they do is amazing.
Although my embouchure has softened pathetically over the years, I can still puff out a few in-tune notes on a baritone and trumpet. My vocal range has declined drastically to an octave or two, and I am now more comfortable singing bass. But my whistling talent has improved with age, like a fine Rothschild wine. I still enjoy whistling a happy tune, as I did daily as a young boy delivering the newspapers on my paper route in DeGraff, Ohio. Better yet, I have not outgrown my fantasy of being the first chair whistler for the London Philharmonic. Some dreams never die.
And what more could any music lover want?
~ Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., Author, Side-Yard Superhero and The Band Plays On