Before there was rock and roll, there was Beethoven. And Schubert. And Schumann. Unfortunately, I was not in the mood to appreciate them the way I do now, mainly because I was being forced to practice them, (and scales, etc.), when all I wanted to do was escape and do ANYTHING else. Of course, I was only about eight or nine, I guess, when I had the dubious pleasure of piano lessons with Mrs. Margaret Snow. Actually, I do her a grave injustice. She was a wonderful old (to me) lady who tried her best to impart some of her love for the classics in me. I wish she were still around to hear me say: "You were right, Mrs. Snow!" She would have me over to her house at least twice a week, sometimes more, and if I hadn't practiced enough for her, she'd make me sit there at her piano and practice for an hour or so, then give me the lesson. I can still hear her say: "That was very nice, David. Now let's try it again with the METRONOME!!!!" Boy, did I ever hate the METRONOME!!!! I would have enjoyed being flogged a lot more. But, again, I must admit, Mrs. Snow was right. For the most part, I managed to gain a good sense of timing and meter from the experience, which served me very well in the years to come. Having her pound the scales and key signatures into my head was probably almost as excruciating for her as it was for me, but again I am indebted to her patience. She and her husband, Eldred, were some of the nicest memories from my childhood. They let me have part of their house so I could set up a huge log cabin set I had, and I had the run of the place whenever I wanted to drop by. Mrs. Snow also tutored me in arithmetic, spelling, and phonics, and by so doing, probably ensured my eventual graduation from high school. Eldred suffered from emphysema, and couldn't get around very well at all. They were very nice people, and I think of them frequently. Eldred is gone now, I know, but Mrs. Snow moved back "up north" after he died, and I lost track of her completely.
She also gave lessons to several other kids that lived in our neighborhood: Elissa "Bonnie" Lindsey; Ronnie and Brian Brown; and, I think, Dottie Breining. Maybe Rex Thayer, too. However, I was the only one to stick it out for as long as I did (until I was 12, I think), at which point I finally persuaded my folks not to force me to take piano lessons. I was free! But it was only temporary. I was still interested in music, and when I got to junior high (or was it high school? Hmmm....), I signed up for band. First I played the drums. Actually, what I played was the practice pad. (I have, to this day, never owned a drum of any description, except the synthesized kind). Predictably, my interest in whacking a little metal and rubber device which made no sound at all didn't last very long. I ended up making a blowgun out of the stand. Got to be a pretty good shot, too, except for the time I shot Ronnie Brown in the face by accident. Sorry Ron!!! (He was OK, I didn't hit anything vital). Where was I? Oh, yes, so after the drums came the trumpet. Unfortunately, by this time I was beginning to enter my revolutionary phase (read adolescence), and I would frequently show up for band without a horn. (Actually, my parents were not well off at all, and there was no money for a horn at times. My father had mowed Mrs. Snow's lawn for my piano lessons). Eventually, the band director, Mr. Bowen, had something of a breakdown (he was also trying to give me trumpet lessons) and told me I may as well give up, that my lips were too big to play the darn thing, anyway. Complicated by the fact that I had asthma, I decided to hang up the trumpet for good. You're welcome.
Shortly thereafter, however, I had the AM (that's all there was, kiddies) radio on one day, and the most extraordinary sound I had ever heard came blasting out of the tiny speaker. It was The Beatles! I Wanna Hold Your Hand! She Loves You! I was ruined. I had to DO that! Playing organ wasn't very cool at the time (The Beatles had no organist), so I wheedled a guitar and amp out of my poor parents, started a band with my best friend Mike Ennis, and the rest, as they say, is history...
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