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7. The Importance Of Being Earnest

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

And so, I began my music studies in earnest. I felt that music had chosen me by virtue of the fact that it was what kept me in school. I joyfully spent 12 hours a day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in a period of intense practice and study which earned me a Dean's List standing. I soaked in all the knowledge I could, and participated in a wide variety of performance related activities. I developed a strong interest in contemporary and experimental compositions while writing down my own ideas in a series of music notebooks for later use.

I took a jazz piano class with the teacher I wanted to study with who subsequently accepted me for private lessons. These lessons accompanied by a weekly seminar formed the core of my piano education. I performed in as many recitals as I could handle, was referred by my piano teacher to a local band, booked solo piano and piano/vocal gigs for myself at the College Tavern and Restaurant, played organ in an original student ballet/oratorio production and performed some Hindemith on organ at my graduation ceremony.

I also played bass with a variety of ensembles including a great funk/soul band with horns under the leadership of an immensely talented and inspiring drummer, the Solid State stage band which performed one of my works entitled Warp Factor One in which I played a very early synthesizer, the State Singers, the Concert Band, and the musical Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope. On the vocal side, I sang in the Bach Magnificat and Vivaldi Gloria with the college Festival Chorus.

One of the most memorable parts of all this was the musicians I met, worked with, learned from, and in some cases became friends with. One day, one of my non-musician friends, a philosophy major left me a note containing lyrics from a song by Joni Mitchell entitled Judgement Of The Moon And Stars (Ludwig's Tune) which simply read, "Condemned to wires and hammers, strike every chord that you feel, that broken trees and elephant ivories conceal." Now, I'm no Beethoven, but there was someone who appreciated the meaning of my life at the time, and cared enough to let me know it.

From my teachers' perspective, when my father and step-mother came to pick me up after graduation, the Music Department Chairman told them that I was one of the highlights of the department. And the music theory teacher who had initially questioned my pursuing music admitted to me that he had been wrong, and that I should rub elbows with the very best people I could.

All in all, not a bad ending. But now I felt done with academia. I would miss my favorite grand pianos, but I was eager for a new beginning, to try my hand in the real world.

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