My Music Background

There was quite a bit of music in the house when I was growing up. My mon and dad sang in the church choir, my dad was a self-taught play-by-ear accordian player, and my older sister, Gloria, took piano lessons for many years. I sang in the junior choir, and later in the church choir, But, I never took any music lessons.

We had an upright grand player piano in the house that my uncles bought for grandma Swanson around 1916. There were several hundred piano rolls in a cabinet, good old songs like Barney Google, What'll we do on a dew dew dewy day, Stumbling All Around, and an oversized roll War of the World that had marching songs and national anthems. I can remember when I was still too short to reach the pedals climbing up on the piano stool, loading a roll, and then climbing under the bench and pumping the bellows with my hands.

Although I never took lessons, my sister's piano books were in the bench. And, best of all, there was a folding card you could stick behind the keys that had all of the notes printed on it. This was how I learned to read music.

Over the years, I have sung in choirs and choruses all over the country. In my younger days I was very lucky to be accepted into the Masterwork Chorus in Morristown, New Jersey. There were rumored to be 70 music teachers amoung the 300 members, but the important thing was that the director, David Randolf, was the closest thing to a musical genius and master choral director that I have been associated with. I learned a great deal about music during my time with that group. The Masterwork Chorus performed concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City. This was an amazing experience for me in those days.

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