Early in my childhood, I preferred music with harmonies and melodies. On the infrequent occasions when I attended the Episcopalian church with my parents, I liked to sing and listen to the hymns. Christmas and Easter were times when we sang and enjoyed seasonal hymns. I liked the fact that most of the hymns were sufficiently harmonious so that pairs of lines ended with a syllable that rhymed. An example is hymn number 522 in the Hymnbook 1982:

Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion city of our God.
He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for his own abode,
On the Rock of Ages founded, what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvations’ walls surrounded, thou may’st smile at all thy foes.
(Church Publishing)

Beginning in early childhood, I liked Baroque and classical music. I didn’t enjoy Gregorian chants. I liked Vivaldi’s compositions. I especially liked Baroque composers Bach and Handel, and classical composers Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn.

An unusual musical experience was in the seventh grade, the first of six years at St. Paul’s School, a boarding school for boys. I was one of more than a dozen members of the choir who at that school was performing with more than a dozen Soprano members of the choir as one of the Major General’s daughters in The Pirates of Penzance by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. I remember the choir master told us that contrary to boys, girls do not allow their arms to drop beyond the elbows but hold their forearms beyond the elbows.

In my freshman year at Harvard College, I chose to take one

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of my four courses on musical appreciation. That experience reinforced my preference for Baroque and operettas. I also joined a group of singers who performed Christmas carols shortly before Christmas.

When I was about 40 years old, I began my more continuous involvement in contributing to music. I joined the choir of the local Episcopalian church. It was across the street from my residence in Pittsburgh. I was one of the three members of the bass voice. Rehearsal was Thursday evenings. We contributed our voices to the Sunday morning services. I also joined a group of singers who performed Christmas carols shortly before Christmas.

The Unitarian Universalist Church was more in accordance than the Christian religion for me. After about 30 years as an Episcopalian choir member, I joined the Unitarian Universalist Church, very close to my residence. After about 30 years in that choir, I retired from the choir because my vision and hearing had become defective.

The COVID-19 pandemic began soon afterward. Church services were held on Zoom, which I have not learned to use. The church services have not yet resumed. I felt surprised to discover that in my adult life, choir membership and performance have been a frequent portion of my weekly routine. My temperament is more individualistic than collectivistic. I recently felt puzzled that the collectivistic activity of a choir member has been a major activity in most of my life. Music has been a source of considerable enjoyment.

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References:

  • Church Publishing (1982). Episcopal hymnbook 1982 blue: Basic singers edition. Church Publishing.

Authors:

Herbert Barry III

Herbert Barry III, PhD, educated in psychology at Harvard and Yale, taught at the University of Connecticut prior to serving as a research and psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 38 years. He served as President of the International Psychohistorical Association, is a Research Associate of the Psychohistory Forum, and is a proud member of MENSA. He has published 100s of articles with presidents and their birth order among his specialties. Dr. Barry may be contacted at .

How to Cite This:

Barry III, H. (2023). Music in my life. Clio’s Psyche, 29(2), 175-176.

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