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You are Never too Young or too Old to Start Something New!

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Every once in a while, people ask how and when I started writing music? In answer, I have to admit that was something I never thought about while raising our 4 daughters. During the mothering years, I wanted to give our children every opportunity to enjoy and participate in musicaly activities but for me to start writing songs? No, that never entered my mind.

Our first daughter began saying words at 7 months and her first word was "bug". As a new mother, I didn't realize that was very early for a baby. As a school teacher, I knew that music was important in helping children develop language skills and is one of the building blocks in language development. Therefore, I always made an effort to have music playing 24/7 in our home. I kept Heather close wherever I was as she sat in her infant seat. (She had no desire to crawl or walk and was content to sit in one place.) As I cooked and washed dishes, I continually talked to her, sang songs, or we just listened to recorded music.

When she was 11 months, she did something rather amazing! One day I was singing and I thought I heard her vocalize. When I sang a pitch, she listened and then mimicked the sound. What? As I started singing up the scale as "do, re, me, fa, so. . ." she did likewise. Step by step, she matched my pitch with "la" and I was truly astonished! I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the tape recorder (that's what we used in the 70's), and taped it so my husband could listen because I didn't think ANYONE would believe me! On that recording made so many years ago, she could be heard speaking her first words and singing. How endearing are those memoires!

Mom Kathleen and daughter Heather

By 13 months, she was singing simple tunes and we were excited to call G'pa and G'ma Holyoak in Idaho so they could hear her sing, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." That was the beginning of what became a wonderful musical career for her as she grew up. (That would be a veru long blog entry.)

G'ma Clea's piano in Idaho - 1st birthday.

Having this experience with our daughter at such a young age helped me to realize that you are truly never too young to start a new talent!

Now back now to the original question about the beginning of my music writing? Many years ago when I was Primary president, I attended a conference in Mesa where Janice Kapp Perry was speaking. Janice is a delightful woman with a dry wit! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her speak that day but was very surprised when she said she didn't start her music writing career until the age of 39. Because of a sports injury, she needed to find something else to do so she began writing songs for children. At that time she had been writing for 15 years and mentioned that her music had spread around the globe.

I sat there at age 49 and thought, "If Janice didn't start until 39, maybe I could start at 49?" She was my inspiration and for that I will forever be grateful. A good friend, Kristy Sherwood, also attended the conference with me and some time we later talked about how fun it would be to enter a song in the Annual Church Music Submission. Kristy had a beautiful singing voice and one day called to say she had started writing a song entitled, "Now is Your Season". She wrote the words and most of the melody but needed my help to finish it. With my musical background and a Bachelor of Music Degree from BYU, I knew I had the tools to start. I purchased some music notation software and learned by trial and error how to use it so we could submit a music score. I finished the song she started, wrote an arrangement, and then submitted it by the deadline in March. I told Kristy this would be a good way to find out if we were on the right track and if nothing more would be a good learning experience. I had been told that every year there are as many as 800 entries in the different categories so we certainly were not expecting an award.

Some months later, we were surprised to hear we were awarded 2nd place in the "Songs Division." With excitement, we attended the Award's Concert at the Assembly Hall at Temple Square with our families and were thrilled to be counted as award winning composers! Composers? I had never in my wildest dreams thought of myself as a composer! Anyway, the song was beautifully performed but the Grand Prize award went to Sally DeFord for her song, "Make Us One." As I sat there listening to the choir and her most glorious composition, I got chills and thought to myself, "If I coul write a song for choir and win a 1st place award like Sally, I would feel I had truly accomplished something." To this day I still remember the melody for that song and the performance of the choir.

So Sally, I owe you bigtime for inspiring me to reach new heights in my music writing. In the coming years, I enjoyed the satisfaction of achieiving the goal Sally DeFord inspired me to reach for and writing choral music has become my passion in life.

My inspiration: Sally DeFord

Janice Kapp Perry, I will be eternally grateful for your inspiration and the friend you have become as we meet at award concerts.

I'll never forget my dear friend, Kristy Sherwood who later became "Mrs. Arizona" but who succombed to lung cancer some years later. I think of her often and hope she knows of my love for her. Without her encouragement, I never would have started writing. I only wish I had a photo to share of her.

Since I didn't seriously start my music writing until my 50's, if anyone thinks they are too old to start something new, I'll tell them, "Definitely not!"

Janice Kapp Perry & Kathleen Holyoak

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Feb 12, 2020

This is so inspirational. Being 53 now...I'm thinking maybe I can start something new and be a rockstar at it too. :-) I just loved this entry. So awesome!

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