Monday, July 31, 2017

I have a secret....

.....I have always loved music or anything to do with music.
Early in life I was a Christmas Angel in our church Christmas Program.
I was 6 1/2 years old when I got my angel wings. In spite of my best efforts to be a good angel,
my wings were a little crooked and my hands were not at all centered over my head.
When I look at this photo, it makes me think of the song in the early 70's
I did have an angelic smile; however, it is hard to be a good angel when you are wearing 
atrocious socks.   My stint as an angel was short.

When I was in the 4th grade, we moved to Cary, a small city just outside of Raleigh.
My family loved watching The Lawrence Welk Show on TV every week.  So much music
so many beautiful voices and instruments.  I especially loved to watch
Myron Floren, play the Polka on  the accordion.   I loved how the music sounded.
I begged and I pleaded to take accordion lessons. My parents told me I was too small to
be able to handle that large instruments....then lo and behold they did a little research and found out 
children my age played what was called a Junior Accordion.  A little more research and they found a place to buy the perfect accordion for me. It was very much like this one below.
It came in a beautiful case just the right size for me to manage.
They found an accordion teacher, Mr. Ruggiero,  not to far from our house too.
My lessons began in the fall I was thrilled.  There were about 4 other students 
in the class. I practiced a lot too.    Turns out I had an ear for music and caught on fairly quickly.
My little fingers were racing up and down that vertical keyboard.  
The only problem I had was all during my lesson my teacher opened his mail.
He did not seem to be paying attention.  Sometimes I would watch him and YIKES
I'd loose my place and miss a note and boy did he pay attention then.
We had our first recital in the Spring.

There were no lessons over the summer but we did have things to practice to keep our fingers nimble.
I was very good about practicing in spite of the fact that all my friends were coming to the door asking me to come out to play.  I got so bored doing the required practicing.
I loved "Lady of Spain" that I heard on the Lawrence Welk show  almost every week.  I decided to try to play it by ear w/o sheet music. Much to everyone's amazement I was successful at picking out the notes my ear.    Needless to say I was very excited and could hardly
wait to show my teacher.  When he asked us to show him what we had been practicing over the summer I did, then I said I had a surprise. I played "Lady of Spain" completely w/o any music.
I was beaming with proud when I finished only to look up and see Mr. Ruggiero frowning.
He scolded me right then and there and told me never to pick out a song by ear.  I forgot all his reasons but one being I needed to learn to read all music before I ever ever did that again.
I was very embarrassed and discouraged.  Neither of my parents played music so they pretty much had to go along with what the teacher told them.  I continued my lessons for another year
but basically my enthusiasm had been squashed.  I no longer enjoyed it and wanted to stop taking lessons.  I had a ~$250.00 accordion (back then you could not rent instruments you had to buy them).
Needless to say anytime Lawrence Welk show came on TV I went to my room to read...
it was a very sore subject in the house for some time.  Maybe I should not have played w/o sheet music but I still to this day feel like the teacher could have handled it differently.

To this day when I tell folks I used to play accordion most have a most quizzical look on their face as if to say WHY the accordion?  I say Why Not.
Many years ago I took dulcimer lessons which I enjoyed.  I was working and practicing was hard.
I think the guitar would be fun to learn but I have not acted on that yet.
My husband's Uncle learned to play guitar after he retired  and my brother in law
took piano lessons in his mid 40's and had recitals with children.  He is retired now too
and still loves playing for his own pleasure.
I'm retired I have time I guess I just need to want to do it!!

To this day I love music especially instrumentals.  I wish I had continued the accordion.  Maybe someone reading this with more musical experience than I had can enlighten me on why my teacher was not just a wee bit more encouraging or perhaps someone had a similar experience when trying to learn something new.



  1. I begged for piano lessons and in school begged for drums and lessons to be in the marching band. we were dirt poor so I got none of them. I can play by ear the old hymns on the piano. the man should not have been a teacher, plain and simple, not your fault at all... and there is nothing wrong with playing by ear, many famous people do and song writers... he needs a good swift kick in the butt but he is probably dead and gone by now. I wanted piano lessons and almost took them when I was about 55 I think but just never did. decided it was not worth the effort now.

  2. I think your teacher was a very simple minded mean man. Anyone who chastises a child for doing something like that is just wrong. He should have praised and encouraged you. Or helped you to read the music for the song.

    I think you should take up something again. Since you have the talent to play things, you should do it.

  3. OH, you need to find an accordion to borrow or even a dulcimer and make a video so we can hear you play - that sounds like so much fun. Mom always wanted to play the piano when she was a young girl, but her family did not have a piano. Pretty hard to practice:( When she was an adult with three young children, she had a piano and did take lessons. But when the only time she could find to practice was at her lesson, she decided to give it up until she had more time. Hmmmm, she is still working on that:)

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

  4. C; that's a shame that the teacher reprimanded you in such a fashion that
    you gave up playing; I'm sorry you did; many adults are like that though;
    telling students and even their own children; oh, you can't do this because
    of that...I think we all have had this happen, I know I should
    play again and post it on you tube and I hope it goes viral... ♥♥♥

  5. Hari OM
    The accordion is a fine instrument and your teacher not so much... my piano teacher was of the same ilk and was not beyond rapping my knuckles with her baton if it wasn't going to her liking. That and the Siamese... don't get me started on her devil cat... YAM xx

  6. What an amazing talent to learn to play by ear and it is too bad the teacher squashed your love for the instrument instead of being excited about your natural ability. I learned the guitar when I was young and I loved to play and sing folk songs!

  7. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.....I can't believe what that man did to you and your love of the accordion. I was lucky enough to have someone actually encourage me to play the flute when I was 11 with the opposite result. I sure would have loved to see you play the accordion!

  8. This brings back memories of my cousin playing the accordion. He was in his early teens and he loved it! Shame on that teacher. Mom insisted that I learn to play the organ and I wanted to be outside playing with friends. I should have listened to mom☺ I don't play any instrument.

  9. First of all, you were an adorable Christmas Angel! We all had drooping socks back then and so what?! As for the accordion teacher - he really was a rather mean guy to be so disinterested in the kids taking lessons from him (reading his mail??!!) AND to berate a student who had taken time to learn a whole song whether it was from reading music OR by ear. What the heck difference did THAT make? The point was you did it by yourself and deserved that recognition. So sad. If you want to take up a musical instrument now - I say GO FOR IT GIRL!

    Love, Pam

  10. Hubby plays the guitar really well, can't read music and plays by ear. He is an amazing and talented musician. I play the piano appallingly badly and read music. In fact after I hammer out a tune he will often sit at the piano and play it just how it should sound...without reading the music (and yes that is very irritating!)
    But I do think your music teacher was very WRONG!

  11. If you played by ear then the teacher wasn't really teaching and I suspect that might have something to do with it. Good for you exploring your musical side! It is said that taking up an instrument is a wonderful brain activity for folks as they age! Quashing your interest and confidence as a youngster may have hidden all your talent! You likely have much more capability than you even know! I took 3 years of piano as an adult (and have a digital & acoustic) so I know a thing or two about music. However, unlike you I lack any natural musical talent and that unfortunately weighs heavily against those lessons. Basically I play so poorly I rarely play and have forgotten most of it. You should get a guitar! I wouldn't mind playing guitar (we have 3 of them not being played) but can't get past the painful finger stage lol! Do it!


  12. Your story reminds me of a family friend, who was a fantastic piano player...until a supposedly learned pianist listened to him play and waved him off like the boy had no talent at all. He stopped playing. What arrogance, and stupidity! Looking down one's nose at a child, whether on an accordion or just asinine. But, on the positive had fun and have knowledge that few people do. Good for you!


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