Sunday, September 26, 2010

Typing vs Reading Music: Clash of the Titans

There was a Clash of the Titans when I was younger. My mother decided that piano was in my future. Thompson's Piano Series #1
Betty Paris was a friend of my mother's and a piano teacher. Her kids were playmates. I did not think it would be cool to take piano lessons from the mother of friends... so I didn't.  Oh, I showed up after school on Best St, a 20 minute walk from school once a week. I went through the motions, but only learned the last song in the book, "Ode to a Wigwam" . I learned the last page  that after 4 weeks.

I played in the high school band. They wanted me to play the tuba  because I was big enough to carry it around.  I wanted to be part of something that didn't have R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corp) attached to it. It was a required course in high school during the Cold War days. You could, however, learn to march in the band. I guess that was the prevailing industrial/military adult logic in 1955.  We could march to the train station and play while they loaded up everybody to go get shot at.

I played AT the tuba. I never learned  read music...I just memorised the piece by ear. I got caught a few times playing something that wasn't on the paper...not that it was wrong, it just wasn't on the score...a BIG "no no" in band competitions. The way to the door was being discussed...and I did not want to learn to march in ROTC style. Everybody my age knew Military Ball Queens ain't as cute as Majorettes!

 I decided football might keep me out of ROTC, and, seeing football started before school started,  I would be playing FOOTBALL before the ROTC radar picked me up. It worked, but presented another set of problems for my teen aged, acne-ridden angst self. I DID NOT have the killer instinct...horrors!

I thought it sorta' funny when somebody blind-sided me..I did it to other people... turn about was fair play.  The coaches did not find the humor in my being blocked out of a play. I was the cause of game winning touchdown once. I ran many a lap to attone for my slovernly ways. The coaches never forgave me! I keptplaying 'casue I had seniority, and  because their wasn't anyone else to play my position who wasn't in the 8th grade.  I have always thought that people getting all fired up and screaming at the top of their lungs at a pointy ended ball was a little strange, but it kept me out of ROTC. i guess coaches get excited cause they don't want to be fired and then rehired by a C class school in a small town below the "gnat line".

I never learned to read music out of stubbornness. I never learned the football " play book" because I really wasn't interested.. Why did I learn to type? I don't know, honestly. It was a high school elective class. I took it instead of shop 'cause my girl friend at the moment was taking typing?  However, if you do something for 42 minutes a day for a year you,  you learn some of it...just enough to pass the class.

 I sorta' wish I'd learned to read music  rather than  type, but then this blog would be impossible hunt and peck. I like to compose, or "write songs", as people say now. Everybody with a guitar is a singer/songwriter. The reason for wanting to learn music is knowing how to write music down. I  try to remember how something I thought of yesterday on the tractor sounded. All I get is tractor noise.

Sloane Staggs, a wonderful old friend and mandolin player from WV, was a butcher. He wrote tunes for mandolin, and to remember them, he put a piece of red butcher paper up on the wall of the shop . When a tune came to him, he would notate it on the paper and take it home to work out on the mandolin that night. I still play a couple of his tunes...and remember seeing the "shaped notes" on the butcher paper.
I can now type song lyrics on the computer, save them to a file, edit, print, and get 'em back anytime I need them, as long as the system doesn't crash and I pay the electric bill.  I still have to keep the tunes on tape, or in my brain...or in my guitar.
 Notes would be better! Maybe I should have just learned  to do both, type and read music. I might have had to take ROTC...bummer. I  might not have played biggie. I might not have learned to improvise on the TUBA...

Hmmm, reckon I could learn to read music at my age? Or maybe a program on the computer that will transfere melody to note...I'm looking, any suggestions?

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