Originally written Summer 2017
Long, long ago, when I was just a puppy I took an interest in music.
First it was the concert bass. This was mostly because there was a concert bass at Thomas Houghton school in Detroit with nobody that wanted to play it. Truth is I wasn’t very good. Mostly in spite of the best effort of a music teacher that showed up once a week I usually just beat on the thing.
Slowly I found the Guitar less intimidating, that and a lot easier to carry back and fourth to school.My first Guitar came when I was getting close to high school and a whole new environment. The instrument cost all the money that I had and nearly as much more from my very reluctant father figure. It was a beautiful thing, a Harmony Patrician. Welsby Music added a DeArmond pick up on it so that one day I could play L O U D.
Again the Father person was less than thrilled but he went along with it.
Welsby Music also had a dedicated guitar coach. Al Korenich, one weird duck but a good musician. Al wrote his own music for students. The only commercially published lesson books at the time were very hard to deal with. The “Nick Manaloff Method” books looked old when they were new. The material was difficult and the songs all seemed to come out of the dark ages.
Mister Korenich taught notes, chords, and songs. His, self generated, printed matter came off an Ozalid Amonia copier. Somehow I was slowly learning to play.
Redford High school offered an instrumental music class for budding guitar players. Gene Fenby valiantly taught music theory to us and pretty much let us have our own head of steam otherwise. Fenby was in no way a Guitar guy but he gave us valuable knowledge from his piano bench. Everything he had to say was very well demonstrated by his keyboard.
With this education and hundreds of hours on bandstands, I became a music coach. In my own mind I was building a music career. Was not to be. I never got beyond turning on my own spotlight. Or beyond part time coaching. I was a coach, not a teacher, because the State of Michigan licensed teachers. I am not a college graduate.
Still, I got to play, I was certainly a part time musician. Usually fifty two weeks a year. I was ready for the music coach thing. I had four nights a week at the Harmony House music shop in Detroit. It was all good but there was only a little more material available for guitar students than when I started. I used “Mel Bay” books and supplemented the material with things that I wrote out by hand for students. The real goal was to somehow teach them to play, without teaching them to HATE guitar.
For Dominic Chraciola, owner and proprietor of Harmony House, the goal was to sell guitars. This led to mild conflict as I didn’t like selling an expensive instrument until a student actually could play reasonably well. Still I sold guitars, amplifiers and the like. Some of the students did quite well. Generally guitar players are not music readers. I think that this is because of the character of the lesson materials. For myself I have found an old violin book. I think that the etude material is better than anything I ever saw in a guitar book. I believe that this would have been a superb supplement to the materials that I had available in my teaching days. Certainly I will never be a seriously good music reader but I will be a better reader than I am now. If I had it to do again I definitely would add the violin book to my teaching ( and learning ) routine. Probably could have sold more guitars.
For me, that would have made the world a better place.