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Juliet Da Luiso | Writers' Carousel

MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC by Juliet Da Luiso
At age 3 I curled around the cathedral-shaped radio on our library table. My first experience with what I called, at that time, “wesic.” Enchanted by songs I later learned words to: “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Tea For Two” and the song Uncle Gilbert whistled and sang when he was happy – I called it “Coochi-Coo.” My parents discouraged me from singing that one but I did anyway. Hearing it so often, I learned a few more words, “Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, could she, could she, could she coo.”
On entering Catholic school I delighted in the Mass, candlelit dark, music whispering through the room like angel wings. Back in class I’m surprised when Sister Francis calls me to the corner, places a dunce cap on my head. My transgression – smiling in Mass! I was not aware of having done so. Nor did I become aware, so it happened again and again. Finally I went to the stool in the corner where Sister placed the paper hat on my head anytime my name was called. I was only surprised when she wanted me to do something else like dust the erasers. I accepted my position as dunce. Didn’t know for sure what it meant anyway. My love for music wasn’t quelled but knowing when to smile or not smile encouraged my timidity.
In sixth grade I joined the school band. I’d waited so long for this opportunity. There was no choice of instrument for me. A French horn was thrust in my hands and I began the laborious task of learning the embouchure, holding my lips just so and learning how to blow through them from my diaphragm, not my chest. Maxine and Susan filled out the French horn section. I was only embarrassed once when Mister Wilson, our director, introduced us and designated the three girls in the horn section as “cute as three spotted pups.”
My favorite subjects were band and writing. The English teacher encouraged me and really seemed to enjoy my stories made up from a set of spelling words. Band was not only music but a group of friends. We sang on bus trips to Hot Springs for band competitions, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,” until we were hoarse. “Then in the boarding house where I live, things are getting mighty old, long gray hairs are in the butter and the bread is black with mold.”
How young and happy we were.
My musical career ended when I graduated from high school. I missed it and finally my husband bought me a French horn. I picked up lessons at the local college. How I loved the shiny brass reflecting everything in a room. I practiced so hard and so often that my front teeth fillings blew out. Then my physician told me I have heart problems and need to give up playing a wind instrument, that those who played, often developed worsening heart conditions. I consoled myself that I would learn the cello. Years slipped by until I made good on this intention. At 60 I decided, “If not now, when?” I rented a cello from the local music store and they recommended a teacher. I felt pretty unique to be studying a new instrument at my age. Then I learned another middle-aged woman in my neighborhood was also studying with my teacher, Lynne-Anne. Eventually there were six new cello students, all of us older women! We had great fun playing recitals and church occasions over the years. Two of them remain bright in my memory: Once we played for a Men Can Cook Night and had delicious food on our breaks. The other was an outdoor affair, don’t remember the occasion. We were settled to play in a grassy spot bees had already claimed for their own. We were dive-bombed by angry bees. It was a challenge to try to play at the same time.
In the next few years I celebrated my own personal renaissance with music, painting classes and writing poetry. When I moved to Wisconsin to be near my daughter, I was very sad to leave behind the friendships formed in these endeavors. Then I learned about the writing group, Write Right Now, taught by Carolyn Wedin in my village, Luck. The warmth and friendliness of Carolyn and the group are delightful. I’ve found the best teacher I’ve ever had and go on expanding my love of writing with wonderful poets and writers.
Music, music, music plays on in my life. I’m grateful for the fiddle camp that meets here in summer and plays concerts at West Denmark Lutheran Church and at the local school. My daughter has set up an art studio in my garage and while I paint I listen to music. I vowed at age 30 that I would continue learning as long as I lived. At 80, the dream continues.
Juliet Da Luiso
Juliet, a lifelong poet, moved to Luck two years ago. Worried at leaving her friends in Virginia and lonely on first arrival, she discovered Carolyn Wedin’s group, Write Right Now. The talent, friendliness and joy in writing there and Carolyn’s gift as a writer and teacher made her feel right at home.


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