Louise Osborne, Lake Almanor, California

“I was born in 1945, so around 1946 to 1952, we would go every summer from Ohio to Colorado because we had a cabin in the mountains. That was a long trip. We didn’t have car radios, let alone computers or ways to listen to music, so my father would sing. He made up funny little ditties — he’d take a tune and re-do the words to it. We all had fun in the car; it was a way to entertain ourselves over the long journey.

I got piano lessons from age 8 to 17 and organ lessons at church from the organ lady. I substituted in the summertime at my church for the choir directress who was on vacation. In high school I sang in the school choir, and I always sang in the church choir too.

I clearly remember working hard in high school and then going to cheerleading practice (when I was in high school, girls couldn’t play organized sports). When I came home from cheerleading practice, I remember going directly to the piano and just banging out songs for a vast time. I think that was for therapy, but I didn’t think of it that way — I thought of it as enjoyment. At that time in the early sixties when I was in high school, Rodgers and Hammerstein were big. Their plays and musicals were coming out, and I had every one of them in the full score for the piano. I would just go and play and play and play, and that was probably one of the most enjoyable memories of me playing to make myself happy. I was tired, probably, since I didn’t get home from cheerleading practice until around five. It was very physical and athletic, obviously, but I still would have this need to go to the piano. To this day, I still play those same powerful Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from The Sound of Music like “Climb Every Mountain.” During this time in social isolation, music has truly been important to me. I go to it for companionship. The singing and the playing just gives you the opportunity to get something out. I play it louder and stronger when I really want to get the angst out.

When I became a teacher, I used music every single day in teaching. I always had a piano in my classroom. I did a lot of plays and musicals with the children, and I would play a song in the morning every day, too.I felt my primary job as a teacher in the primary grades was to have them feel joy for learning, and that was very much done through music. The theatrical side of my dad brought out the theatrical side of me, which I think was part of the reason I was successful as a teacher. I was entertaining the children. I had to compete with the TV shows like Sesame Street they watched because they had to watch me all day, and I had to do something to make their day exciting.

Louise teaching children in preparation for a musical production at Loma Prieta Elementary School in Los Gatos, California.

My husband Bob and I would always go to plays in town. When we traveled in Europe, we always made a point of going to any live theatrical or music programs there as well. One time, we were driving through the countryside in Austria, and we saw this little church. There was an advertisement for a concert that they were going to perform on the weekend, and I said, ‘We just need to come back here to see this.’ We bothered to do that — it was at least an hour from where we were staying for the week in a mountain retreat up in the alps. We had the most lovely experience talking to the people and watching the locals perform the music. Wherever and whenever I could get the music, I went for it. 

Even this Easter Sunday when we couldn’t go to church and did online church, I banged out the hymns. I made a big effort to get a piano up here when we moved to the mountains. It’s a little spinnet, but it does the job — it gives me the joy that I’ve always received from music. I’ve always had a piano in my home. Whereas a lot of people are either classical or not, I love all music. It’s definitely a go-to for me, and I am a happy person by nature. I’ve been lucky: I had a great childhood and music has always been a big part of life, thanks to my parents.”

— Louise Osborne, Lake Almanor

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