The National Museum of African American Music

Yesterday we drove into downtown Nashville because we wanted to visit the National Museum of African American Music. Our good friend, Bill G., said it was a “can’t miss” part of his Nashville experience. And he was right!

The visit begins with a film called “Roots,” a brief history of black music beginning with the call & response and polyrhythmic beats of Africa. We’re then shown how so many of today’s, many styles grew out of this humble, yet rich, beginning. The last part features today’s worldwide embrace of hip-hop and R&B.

As the music filled the hall, my smile widened. The music pulsed and my spirit rose with the great selection of jazz, blues, and gospel artists. Wow!

Like most museums, what’s here is more than I can absorb in one visit, but I felt like I received a satisfying overview of the debt we owe to black musicians. Their musical innovations and their passion were evident everywhere. I am so thankful.

The designers of the museum included plenty of interactive components – a great break from reading plaques or watching videos.

You can create a hip-hop groove, arrange a blues song or use a nifty machine to identify what type of music producer best matches your taste. There are opportunities to sing “Oh, Happy Day” with a Nashville Gospel Choir and sing some hip-hop with your friends. Very cool.

Throughout the museum, there are listening stations with headphones. At these kiosks, you can see pick any artist, listen to a selection of their songs and then (this is really awesome) see and hear their peers and their influences! As part of your admission price, everyone receives a digital bracelet that can be used to download all the music you like for free.

When we were done with the museum, we took a walk through downtown Nashville’s music row. This area is filled with tourists, many dressed in cowgirl boots and hats, obviously thrilled with the sounds coming from the honky tonks and the energy of fellow country music fans.

The cacophony of music, crowds, food, shopping, and homeless people was more than our sensitive ears and eyes can handle, so Beth and I scurried through that area after enjoying a quick lunch. On the Adventure, we’ve learned that we’re country mice, not city ones!

Coming home, we missed a yoga class because we forgot about the time change (oops), did laundry and readied for our evening activities. Beth taught her yoga class and I had my first intake session with a  life coach I met in Asheville. Greg offered me some free sessions because he needs to do some student teaching to complete his certification process. I’m very grateful for this opportunity because he’s very smart and I think I can use the support at this juncture.

What a great day!

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