Newsletter June 2021

June 30, 2021

Six months ago, I embarked on a journey into the Fine Arts.  My kids got me a bass guitar and a set of lesson books, and I have been busy ever since.

Nearly 50 years ago, I briefly had a bass but never spent enough time with it to learn much of anything.  I promised myself that I would return to that and master that instrument and Stef recently told the kids about my pipe dream.

Taking online lessons from the Fender guitar people and practicing regularly these past six months has brought me to the point where I have 2 ½ songs down cold and many more to come.  The music theory portions of the lessons come easy to me from my years with a French horn and participation in band, orchestra, and even a jazz big band.

So why am I writing to you about all of this?  Simple.  We should encourage our kids or grandkids to take up musical instruments and learn to play them to the extent of their abilities or attention span.

I have learned so much about music construction and composition during the phases of my life.  But the real eyeopener is when you begin to appreciate harmony and various roles that instruments play in creating all music.  Early on, I was taken by the vocal harmonies of the Beatles and others and learned all the parts I could pick out from the LPs.  In one of my books, I even wrote about how I fell in love with the low vocal harmony of the song “If I Fell” from “Hard Day’s Night”.

My French horn days sensitized me to all the times those instruments appear in music, from Beethoven to Tommy by the Who…even in TV shows like the “Streets of San Francisco” theme played by the L.A. Horn Club.  Now, I am tuning in on the bass guitar parts of the music I’ve listened to for years.  A friend even suggested that I go back to the early Beatles (pre-Sitar) and listen to what McCartney was doing.  And he was right!  Paul is excellent.

STEM education is all well and good, but there is a lot more to growing up and life in general than just making a good living.  I am not suggesting that your wee ones run off and try to make a living as musicians.  God forbid!  But they might enjoy sitting back in a chair and actually appreciating the various parts of whatever music they are listening to.

So, I am learning a new skill, keeping my fingers flexing, listening to music in a different way, and encouraging my young grandchildren to open their ears, too.  All in all, a pretty good investment of time and money.  Thanks, family!