Last week my daughter volunteered at a summer program called Girls Rock. This is a terrific program for girls ages 8 to 18 where the goal is teaching self-confidence, empowerment, leadership, and team-building, all through teaching the girls how to play in their very own rock ‘n roll bands. Saturday was the culmination, a rock concert. The girls performed before, an enthusiastic crowd of friends, family, and my dh and me!

Eleven acts performed. Two were girl djs but the rest were “bands” who each performed songs that the girls had written themselves under the guidance of volunteers like my daughter. One of the popular rock ‘n roll venues in Washington, DC, the 9:30 Club, donated the space, so the girls could really feel like rock stars. It was a great, positive experience for all. As you can see by the photo.
So I got to wondering…What was the equivalent in the Regency era?
Most aristocratic young ladies learned to play music, perhaps on the pianoforte or, like one of the Musgrove girls in Persuasion, the harp. And like Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice, they might be asked to perform at dinner parties and for the family.
I could conceive of a young peoples party where the young ladies, and perhaps some young gentlemen, as well, gather around the pianoforte and sing popular songs of the day. Or a family entertaining themselves in the evening in the same way.
I’m reasonably certain that learning to perform music in the Regency was not an exercise in self-empowerment or leadership, but very well might have been confidence and team-building.
In my fantasies, if I wasn’t a romance novelist, I’d love to be a torch singer in an upscale piano bar in New York City. In reality, I did perform in the chorus in musicals in community theater as a teenager. I even sang Pony Boy in my high school senior play.
I think there is something about performing music that is special. And I have to think that is true in any era.
What do you think?
Did you ever perform music? Did you feel special doing it?
Mariel Covendale in A Not So Respectable Gentleman? attends a musicale….I’m just saying. The book is out now!