Six Periods of Songwriting – Period 1

Continuing the story … in Utica I not only continued playing the piano.  But, started working with the church organ.  I had mixed feeling about that.  It was harder to play than the piano.  but, it had so many new and wonderful sounds.

I mentioned earlier that I was talked into the cello.  For a year, I lugged around that big old cello to and from school before I said enough of that and quit.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the sound of the cello.  It just wasn’t what my heart was into.

But, now we start to see my budding composing years ….

1 – The Beginnings

Three years of Utica and my dad was transferred north of the city to Stittville.  I continued with the piano, even staying after school (at Holland Patent Central School) to play on the school’s baby grand.  It was during this period when I composed my first song, calling it “We’re Leaving” in reference to graduation.  I played it for the two music instructors there.  One began to say “It sounds a lot like …” But, the other interrupted, saying “No. No. it’s different enough!”  But, I caught the drift of the first comment and dropped composing for awhile (like maybe 10 years).

I soon graduated from High School and went off to Syracuse University.  There I continued playing the piano in the dorm lounges.  One particular incident stayed with me for decades.  I was with my buddy Bob (I need to tell you more about Bob .. he was a true friend) and playing around on an Upright in a side lounge.  This girl was listening for awhile.  then she came over and said, “You are playing that.  but you aren’t feeling it.  You need to *feel* it.”  And, she left.  I was stunned and my buddy Bob was just besides himself with laughter.  Lesson learned.

So, maybe a month later, I was playing the baby grand in the main lounge.  I was just improvising, playing chords and melodies and seeing what came out of them.  I didn’t think it was anything special.  But, I must admit, it was just flowing out of my hands as if I was channeling someone else.  Suddenly, having had enough, I stopped and turned around back to my buddy Bob (yep, Bob was there too), who shook his hands and said, “why’d you stop?!!  That girl over there was totally entranced with your music!”  Well, maybe.  I don’t know.  She didn’t come over, the moment was gone, and we soon left.  But, it was another lesson learned: I actually could play that thing.

Towards the middle of my Sophomore year I got tired of seeing all the other, better piano players on campus.  So, I walked to a music store and bought myself an inexpensive 6-string guitar and some music books with guitar tabs on the pages.  And, so, I taught myself to play it.

On to Periods 2 and 3 ….

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