I. Music To My Ears. The Early Days.
Since I was tiny, I always had music in my life.
My mother played the old upright piano
During the day at times and later, to put us to sleep.
At five, I started piano lessons with a neighbor teacher.
I advanced some, even recording a duet,
"The Happy Farmer" with my mother.
Mrs. Winkler, married to a Swede who sold nicknack stuff,
As near as I remember, from his car, was my teacher.
She was stiff and formal
And I soon decided at six or seven years to stop.
My mother told me, Winkler had said I would never play music again!
In the meantime, I discovered at six
A big, deep cabinet my father had hand constructed for my mother,
In which were classical 78 record albums--
Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Beethoven, and perhaps Wagner;
Large albums of three to five 78 records--six to ten sides with complete works.
I played them all over and over again.
Once, when I was deep in thought, musically,
My mother came by and said, "Why don't you go out and play?"
Another time she came by and asked, "What are you thinking?"
I seriously answered her, "I am contemplating death."
(I had raised and butchered rabbits from the age of six,
So I knew the 'birds and bees' of rabbits (and humans!)
And how to ready a rabbit for the pot in 20 minutes--
I got faster 'as I aged'!)
At ten years old, I attended dance school with Mrs. Cohn.
I always sat near the trio of men who talked with me--piano, sax, and drums.
In sixth grade at Hyde Elementary School,
They needed an upright double bassist.
I had been given a 'Seashore Test' to check musical prowess and ability--
I may remember it was administered to my whole class.
Well, the music teacher approached me to join the orchestra and play bass.
We had an hour and a half lunch hour between sessions.
Instead of going home for lunch, I practiced by myself
And after one half hour, I walked home, two blocks away,
Lunched and walked back to school.
This continued in Junior High School, when I finally got my own instrument.
It was a big, old, very dark heavy bass,
Which had been, not delicately, reconstructed.
In High School, I went to a private music school for lessons--
My mother drove me and the bass, four miles to the school each week.
My teacher was Mr. Spinney, an older, dark haired,
Very soft spoken man, whom I respected very much
And from whom I learned techniques and fingering.
(He helped prepare me for the school's annual concert--Grieg's piano concerto.)
After about three years he told me I was ready for a more advanced teacher.
He suggested a bassist in the Boston Symphony!
I was about to graduate and leave for Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio,
So I did not follow that advice--who knows what that might have led to!
I left Newton, Massachusetts, and my first wonderful girlfriend,
Seta DerHohanessian, an incredible flautist, whom I loved dearly.
I will always remember my first date, when I drove my parents' car to Seta's home.
We, with others, played the Bach Flute Concerto in B flat.
I was in heaven, with her and being allowed to drive alone--
My wilder, younger brother, John, was not allowed to drive until after 16!
(Seta and I lost track until 30 years later, when we met during my 50th HS Reunion.
She was a year older, so I actually attended two Senior Proms!)
One outstanding memory was when Donald March, HS orchestra director,
Allowed me to conduct the orchestra for some piece, which I remember not;
Yet another moment of being in musical heaven.
I was indeed very content with those early musical years
And , indeed, with almost every day of my youthful process, becoming an adult.
Frank Maurer 6 November 2023
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