Category Archives: Music-making

Music: Homegrown and Handmade

In Jenna Woginrich’s book MADE FROM SCRATCH: DISCOVERING THE PLEASURES OF A HANDMADE LIFE there is a chapter entitled “Homemade Mountain Music”. It got me thinking about how music was such an important part of Helen and Scott Nearing’s ‘good life’.

The Nearings are considered the great-grandparents of the back to the land movement in this country. Helen was a trained violinist and she and Scott played music together to relax after a hard day’s work. I’m sure with all of the visitors they had over their long years of homesteading in Vermont and Maine they had many a music jam!

If you have not read their 1954 book “LIVING THE GOOD LIFE” now is the time.

Helen and Scott were devoted to a lifestyle giving importance to work, on the one hand, and contemplation or play, on the other. Ideally, they aimed at a norm that divided most of a day’s waking hours into three blocks of four hours: “bread labor” (work directed toward meeting requirements of food, shelter, clothing, needed tools, and such); civic work (doing something of value for their community); and professional pursuits or recreation (for Scott this was frequently economics research, for Helen it was often music – but they both liked to ski, also). -Wikipedia

Helen did love her classical music records. You can see her phonograph behind her.

We hosted our first-ever potluck and old-time music jam a couple of weeks ago. Everyone ate out on the front porch and then moved inside to play music. It was an unusually warm evening so the front door was open. In between songs we could hear applause from neighbors passing by.

Here’s a picture-

Actually, we had fourteen people crammed into our front room. We had an upright bass, four guitars, four banjos, a mandolin, and four fiddles. It felt like this picture looks!

Even the cat joined in….

Actually, we don’t have a cat!