Music – My Number One Passion

Sports has been my game practically my entire life.

But it’s not my only passion.

Music actually be number one.
I’ll be specific.
My mother, Terry, as we called her, could play a mean piano. On most Sundays, my parents and my sister and I would gather around our upright piano in our apartment and sing while our mom played Rodgers and Hammersteinshow tunes.
They wrote the classics of the time which have stood the test of time.
Songs from South Pacific, The King and I, Carousel, and Oklahoma, to name a few.
Songs such as, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin“, and “Something Wonderful”.

Many readers will have never heard of these tunes.
But many will. They’re known as “standards”.
Never to be totally forgotten.
Those Sundays were the initiation to my love for music.
And today, when I play, those “standards” are still my favorite.

There, I let the cat out of the bag.
I play the piano and I sing what I play.
No cabaret will hire me, I know.
I play at home or at homes we visit.
That’s good enough for me.
My mom made me take a piano lesson one time.
I hated it. It took an hour to try and read one or two measures (which is a very small part). Trying to use both hands.
It was painful. Like going to the dentist.
A few years later, my mother brought in another teacher who specialized in reading guitar chords which I would play with my left hand, while my right hand played the notes.
I took one lesson, and it made an impact.
I could, once I practiced, actually play a song without it taking five years.
But I abandoned the piano, not caring to practice, and that was that.
That is, until I was a senior at Syracuse.
I decided I now wanted to learn to play.
In the lobby of Dellplain Hall dormitory, on the campus where I resided, was a baby grand piano.
I obtained the sheet music from the show “Oliver”, tediously re-learned the chords once showed to be six years earlier, and in one year, learned to play the songs from the show.

It took that long. In essence, I taught myself to play, since I had forgotten that earlier lesson.
I really started basically from scratch, only aware of the method I would use.
I was hooked.
From then on, I would always have a piano where I lived, bought sheet music and would practice and play.
I was mesmerized by the songs written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Burt Bacharach

I learned to play every one the duo ever wrote, including the obscure songs that never became legendary.
Songs such as “Alfie”, “What the World Needs Now”, “Walk On By”, “The Look of Love”, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, and so many others I would need triple the space I have.
I would play show music and songs by George Gershwin ( “I Got Rhythm”), Jerome Kern, (“Ol’
Man River”), Rodgers and Hart ,(“Blue Moon”, “My Romance”), and so many others.
Perhaps the finest lyricist of all time may be Johnny Mercer who penned the following:
Moon River”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Summer Wind”, and at least 20 others that some would recognize, and others would shake their heads not recalling any of them.

Johnny Mercer 

That’s alright.
I’m old fashioned. But I do not live in the past.
There’s a difference. I embrace the constant changing of society. But what is accepted as popular music today is not my cup of tea.
Country music is another thing. To me, it keeps getting better and better.

My one regret is that I cannot play by ear.
I have to read the music, and I have close to a thousand selections to play from.
Yes, it takes up plenty of space.
I also like to sing.
I especially like singing a cappella, which is singing without musical accompaniment.
It’s a challenge to do this.
I once asked someone who played in a band whether he thought I should take singing lessons. He suggested I should not. He said I should sing from the heart, and that would be sufficient. So that’s what I do.

My favorite, is singing for my bride, Jamie.
I like to tell people I put an empty glass next to the piano in hopes she would contribute a few dollars in appreciation of my playing and singing. But that the glass is always empty.
But I’m just kidding about that.
One of our favorite moments is sipping a scotch while I play her favorites.
Talk about “standards”, one staple is from the show “The Roar of the Greasepaint…”.

The music is written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Our favorites? “Feeling Good”, and “Look At That Face”.

How fortunate that I found that piano in the lobby of Dellplain, and learned to play “Oliver”, even if it took an entire year.

I think if you love music, and can either play or sing, regardless how proficient you are, you are happy.

Now you understand how music has become a passion.



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