Friday, December 26, 2008

A musical family?

I’ve always loved music. One of my first memories was my brother Alan calling me into the house when a Chubby Checker tune came on the radio—“The Twist,” I presume. I would pedal my tricycle as fast as I could back to the house so I could listen to the number one record of 1960.

When my brother Dale borrowed a friend’s electric guitar, he warned me not to touch it when he left the house. Of course, the moment he was a block away, I had it out of the closet and was learning to pick some melodies.

In 5th grade, our vocal music teacher got married and moved to Troy, New York, right in the middle of the school year. Mrs. Adams took over. No offense to Mrs. Adams, but our ex-music teacher was much better looking and I had a crush on her (although I can’t for the life of me remember her name anymore).

My best friend, Larry, had been playing the trumpet in the 5th grade band and told me I should do that instead. So I went to the band’s open house day where Mr. Lowe displayed an assortment of musical instruments for us to choose. Losing count of the number of buttons and switches on the clarinet and flute, I decided to go with the trombone. Only one thing to do: Move the slide back and forth. How hard could that be?

As a budding Glenn Miller, I was relegated to the garage for practice. My bedroom was just too close for my parents’ comfort. Neither of them being musicians, they probably didn’t appreciate the soulful tones emanating from this brass contraption. I do remember that moving the slide didn’t much affect the sound coming out the other end. That’s not a good sign.

In spite of the rough start, I did learn to play the trombone well enough to become a music major in college for a couple of years, but my less than inspirational experience student teaching a junior high school band prompted me to change my major and eventually graduate with an accounting degree.

Music is still a big part of my life, however, as a group of us gets together from time to time to play blues tunes. My trombone stays at home, though, as I switched to electric bass many years ago. It’s a creative outlet that helps keep me sane during income tax and town budget season.

For quite a number of years playing in bands was more than just a hobby. It paid for college and, after the kids starting coming, it paid for a lot of other things. One of our variety bands, Southwest, put together a promo video back in the 90's. See it here (for those of you who have broadband Internet, click on "watch in high quality"):

We encouraged our kids to play instruments in school bands and several of them did. Sarah and Gayle played clarinet and Dan played the drums. Chris, Bryan and Jeff spent their extracurricular time playing sports.

In one of the cuter moments I can remember, Sarah and Dan decided to perform “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” a cappella:

In spite of Dan’s apparent inability to clap and sing simultaneously, he went on to become a drummer, mallet player and percussionist. He will receive his master’s degree in music education next May. He admits he still has trouble clapping and singing at the same time. Here is the drum set finale from his senior recital in undergrad school:

Gayle was a band chick in high school.

Although she spent a great deal of time learning her clarinet parts and practicing her marching steps, she had time to lead a rap group and write some original (and somewhat racy) material. Here it is:

Here, also, is Gayle performing with the high school marching band at a citywide contest:

Finally, Bryan, who I mentioned earlier did not pursue music as an avocation, did exercise his vocal prowess to the delight of many screaming girls at the high school senior talent contest.

So there you are. We may not be the Osmonds or Jacksons, but music was and is an important part of our family. I treasure the memories.

Copyright 2008 Randy Hunt


  1. Randy, I never knew you started out as a music major in college. I do know of your talent, and especially those of Dan,
    as I've seen video's of both of you performing.
    As I was reading you story, I had trip back to my childhood. I was reminded of my own short, but still memorable experience into playing a musical instrument. It was the Fall of the new school year. I was going into the 6th grade. This was the first year students could take up a musical instrument. I was determined to be a saxaphone player, but now I cannot remember why. As it turned out, when it came to my turn to selecting an instrument, all the saxaphones were gone. I went home that day being upset at this setback. I told my mother what had happened and immediately she had the answer, learn to play the piano. I told her I wanted to play th sax. She reminded me that we didn't have the money to buy, or rent a sax and that there was nearly perfect player piano in the cellar for me to use. For 2 years I took lessons from Mrs. Meola, who lived around the corner. Each day I would come home from school and my mother would first walk me to basement and stay for short time as I played my scales. A soon as she left, I darted out to find my friends who were playing sports. Mom finally caught on and didn't force me to continue to take lessons, something I've regreted for a long time. The lesson of listening to parents became more valuable, as I got older and older. Frank

  2. Thanks for those memories, Frank. It seems that you couldn't wait to sneak out of playing piano and I couldn't wait to sneak into playing that guitar. No doubt you were a far superior baseball player than I and probably can whip me playing a "C" major scale on the piano.


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