I come from a musical background….

The paternal side is slightly haphazard. My father’s brother, my uncle, had a good voice, as I have said before, he began by singing on live radio at WVLN in Illinois..  My father didn’t seem to inherit that talent, he  couldn’t carry a tune.  My voice is relatively high, so training it would make me a tenor.  With my current level of training, (none) I float between tenor, and baritone, with a number of flat sounds in-between.

My maternal side has a much more musical background, my grandfather also began singing on live radio, in St. Louis, Missouri, I believe it was for the Standard Oil Show.  He had a bass voice, very similar to Tennessee Ernie Ford (most of you might not remember who he was,  As a child I wished my grandfather would have become a famous singer, so I wouldn’t have to work..  🙂   He didn’t, and I did (have to work, that is) My grandmother sang in the church choir, and my mother, having taken piano lessons, played piano and eventually organ for each church they/we ever attended.

There was no way out of my future….I wanted to learn how to play the Hammond Organ……I began reading music, but the practicing, ugh!  😦       I actually enjoyed playing the melody of a number of different pieces…even sorting out some difficult arrangements (nothing in the classical mode).   There was a drawback, however…….the “other” hand, the one meant to play the cords (the background music).  It (the left hand) wasn’t as versital  as the right melodic hand (strange, since I’m a left handed person).  This caused my advancement into the world of professional music, to hit a wall….the organ training ceased in grade school.

I was a Freshman in high school, “horsing around”, as usual, with a friend when I cut my hand on a desk.  I had to go to the office of a band-aide.  😦      Principal Stucker and Music Teacher Mrs. Mullens were discussing the need for a Drum Major.  Actually, she was TELLING him and he was bearing up against the on-slought.  Apparently the selection in our small country school was limited.  She yells, THERE!!!  How about HIM!!!  I looked around……..the him, was ME!!!  Yeah, what’s this all about?  For fairness, it was determined, there needed to be a try-out with a couple other wanna-be’s.  Now, I led a sheltered life.  I don’t recall EVER seeing a marching band.  Remember, in those days, TV provided limited channels, and my only possible exposure to marching bands would have been during the Thanksgiving Day Parades.  But we didn’t watch those, because we had family/company/holiday time, besides, parades were for watching floats, horses and especially extra large balloon characters.

Back to the tryouts—Mrs. Mullins brought the band and we three “contestants, to a side street near the school.  I was the first try-outer, I blew the whistle, the band began moving and I JUMPED out of the way!!  Mrs. Mullins stopped the band, and says  “What are you doing, you’re suppose to stay in front”…….says I, “Yeah, right, they’ll walk right over me”……… the other two did their try-out and Mrs Mullens had the final (and only) say in the selection process.  I think I was predestined to be the Drum Major.  🙂  I need to interject, that the high had never had a male Drum Major before……….so when I learned the previous drum major uniform included a short skirt, I became concerned.  I did take a Purdue Summer Band Session, fell head over heels for a majorette from South Port, (60 miles south of me) to whom I gave a going steady ring ( I was 13!!!  couldn’t drive, of course……to someone I would never see) her father made her send my ring back in the fall.   I also had some tutoring from one of the Purdue Drum Majors.  Yep, I wound up being the only male drum major, ever,  in the history of the high school.  (And no, I never had to wear the skirt!!!!  I did get a uniform) The high school’s last year was 1970.  I think drum majoring must be where I obtained my “leadership”skills.  It’s sure nice to be followed…   🙂

I had a relapse into the world of musical instruments years later in life.  I began banjo lessons, and thoroughly enjoyed it, learning the strum, claw hammer and bluegrass picking methods.    And yet, like the left hand attempting to play chords on the organ, something wasn’t quite right, consistent tempo……  One day when my wife and I were listening to music….we noticed, as we tapped time to the beat….we weren’t tapping together..why couldn’t she get it right????

The picture became clear, the left hand chords, the banjo timing… was the beat!  My entire life, I kept time on the UP BEAT!!!  For those of you NOT musically astute, you’re suppose to keep time on the DOWN BEAT, on beats 2 and 4.  While I’ve probably always had problems with timing….I would like to think the fault rests with being a drum major, for this uncorrectable situation.  You see, in marching band you always lead with your LEFT foot on the 1st and 3rd beats of a measure and therefore I believe my timing problem was reinforced with the marching band.   Hence the rhythm in my head is inclined to the up beat.

I have musicality, it’s just off half-a beat!!!!!  🙂


About tgriggs17

Son, Husband, Father, Retired, CPA, enjoy freshwater fishing, dotes over the grandchildren, enjoys friends.
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One Response to Musicality

  1. Pingback: The Banjo | Terry's Life and Times

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