Music Lessons with Mrs. Smith

Did you ever do something embarrassing that was remembered fondly?? I sure did. This will be in “Notes About Growing Up”.

Speaking of Les Mills’ Studios above and taking organ lessons, here is what that was about. When I was five my mom thought my sister and I should take music lessons. We took organ lessons not piano lessons for some reasons – maybe since TR had an organ at his house, one at the bank, and no piano (he restored old organs as mentioned above). Regardless we took lessons mostly from Mrs. Wesley Smith who worked at Les Mills’ Studios. Les was a bachelor who had a big house and smaller house filled with pianos and electric organ where music teachers gave lessons. It was across the street from where we would later get our braces too, so it was frequently visited place over the years.

Each week we would go for a 30 minute lesson. Mrs. Smith who was very technical would work with us on songs of course but also deeper things like chord progression and different keys. She was always a nice lady and we went to school with her lids like her son Curtis. As a technique repetition was the key, doing something over and over would load the piece of music into your mind and reflexes so you could do it at will. Well, that never worked too well with me since I also never had any natural rhythm as far as music went and I was never a good musician, even in band playing the trombone for our band director Mr. Rooney.

The repetition continued at home since we were expected to practice there too which I did not want to do, mom had to gripe at me to do my lessons on our organ. I’d rather have been reading a book, playing with my toy soldier, or floating model ships down at the creek.

But the yearly recital was the actually the worst thing about it really. You would have to learn a song and be able to play it by memory in front of the assembled parents and students one terrifying day. I could usually do it OK but day I really screwed up on my song and turned around to the audience which was silent wondering what I was about to do and simply said I was going to start over since I had not done so well the first time. I did start over and played the song without further incident. That little incident was not forgotten by many and least of all not by me.

Asking to start over taught me something. If you make a mistake admit it early and the next time you do whatever you messed up doing, do it better or right. That is another way of admitting a mistake, asking forgiveness, taking your lumps, and moving on, eh? Too many folks use Dilbertian “blamestorming” to obscure their failures blaming others for their shortfalls and I just don’t do that, I instead offer up a “plan B” to fix an issue just like I did that recital day in the basement of a bank in Denton long ago. It’s easier and people will remember that more fondly than being blamed for something.

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