Music meets photography

Lizabeth, now a college freshman, tickling the ivories as a child

Now that my three kiddos are in college, I finally have time to sort through all those old baby and beyond pictures. As I’m browsing, certain themes are emerging.

Photos of friends and family. Photos of art adventures and craft projects. Photos of pets and playdates. Photos of school and community projects. And photos of food, since apparently every holiday turkey I’ve ever cooked is a rare bird.

Many of my favorite photos feature performance art — Jennifer singing with the Phoenix Girls Chorus or leaping through the air at Dance Theater West, Christopher playing piano for New Way Academy’s middle school graduation or practicing saxophone between lessons at Arcadia Music Academy, Lizabeth playing violin during Suzuki music festivals or acting on the Greasepaint Youtheatre stage.

Daily practice was a must at our house, and some days were more pleasant than others. I’m sure they felt at times like the only three children ever to have such tyrannical parents pushing them on to greater musical heights. But recently I uncovered what I hope will offer evidence to the contrary.

Christopher showing off his saxophone skills as a child

It’s an exhibit of photographs opening this Saturday, Sept 24, at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The exhibit is titled “The Power of Music: Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments, 1860-1915.” I’m eager to explore the exhibit searching for pictures of children experiencing musical instruments in earlier times.

Exhibit materials describe this period in history as “an amazing age for musical transformation, taking place during the boom of the Industrial Revolution.” I suspect the exhibit will tell me a bit about exactly how and why that’s the case.

Apparently it pictures Americans from several walks of life making music. Uniformed infantry soldiers. Young rural children. Increasingly liberal urban women. “The intimate portraits in The Power of Music,” says the MIM, “convey pride, a sense of accomplishment, and a love of music.

I’m still digging for photos of Jennifer playing the flute, and wishing my mother had saved photos of my own piano, guitar and clarinet days. In another hundred years, they might be the perfect fit for a photographic exhibit of music in an age of rapidly-evolving technology.

— Lynn

Note: You can explore Musical Instrument Museum offerings at

Coming up: Celebrating International Peace Day, Art and patriotism in Gilbert, The beauty of banned books


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