I loved growing up in Milwaukee. Part of that big love was that I was surrounded by music from my earliest years and remembrances. My father was a minister, and a great singer, and my mother was the church pianist. I was the fifth of six children and my older brothers and sisters were all very musically inclined. They all sang, and three of them played musical instruments, too, but I didn’t. I first remember singing at age 4 or 5, in that church. I sang little nursery rhyme-ish kinds of songs that were sweet and simple. Even though my mother taught piano, I couldn’t get the baseball glove off of my hand long enough to find the middle C. But I sang at every opportunity (even at parent teacher association meetings), often accompanied by my mother.
In junior and senior high school, we had a marching band, a concert band, an orchestra, and an 80-voice acapella choir that performed everything from The Messiah to songs from South Pacific. And we had a football team, basketball team, and cheerleaders who sang and danced. Each year, there was a variety show called The Follies, which featured all of the above in a grand two-hour production. The audio/visual crew provided lighting and sound, and various set ups.
During those days, exposure to the arts in school was as much as a part of the curriculum as reading and writing and arithmetic, and participating in sports. It never came down to a choice of either/or. It was all about a well planned, well rounded education that included self-discovery, which comes from doing the above.