Tag Archives: ballet

Toe, Tap, Strings, Keys

I started school a year early. Perhaps it was because I was smart, or Mom wanted me out of the house. Dad got me into a violin program at age five. In two weeks I was tuning all the violins and violas. Forget the celli and bass.

The next step was piano. Then Mom wanted me to take ballet so I wouldn’t end up walking like a truck driver. Her words. I learned in leather shoes, tap shoes and finally went en point when I was eight years old.

I know someone who wore a version of said shoes. My wide feet never belonged in them. She was a prima ballerina in a major American ballet company and still teaches master classes.

The violin lasted about five years. It was devastating to Dad when I quit all of them. I was made to walk around the house with a dictionary on my head for balance. I preferred my aunts who kept a dictionary in the loo where if I used it I had to come out with a new word, say it, spell it, define it and use it in a sentence.

Violin and guitar. Dad passed over the holidays and his executor, best friend and my little brother is OK with me getting his violin. There’s a photo of me probably at age one sitting with his violin as a cello. He made his way through college playing and calling square dances. I would like to recondition it and have found a source. Now my brother and I just need to find it.

We would like to donate it to his alma mater, where there has been a violin scholarship made in his name.

As to guitar, I know more chords than he taught me at age 12, when Santa sent me a cheap one. I now have a nice one that I hydrate and play a song from time to time. I just don’t understand it and my hands are short (bad for piano, violin, guitar) so my F is non-existent. As to dance, I won’t even go shopping with a girlfriend unless it’s for her wedding. Mom said that she should have bought two pair of shoes for my sister and let me wear the boxes. Harsh, you think? She told me that walking barefoot all summer (eight weeks) made my feet grow wide.

Improvise. Yes, that is what he did. I search for lyrics, put them in a plastic sleeve in a book and make up the chords to sing. Yes, I did school choir as well. I can tell you one thing, I can’t dance as well as Christopher Walken. Cheers! Dee


New Things

When I was 12 years old we moved to a very different place. We usually had only the networks and PBS for television (I liked PBS when it began showing Julia Child). OK, also Sesame Street to keep my young brother occupied for a bit.

As to music I’d always bought transistor radios and only had a few channels so it was mostly top 40. Then I met other kids who listened to Dave Mason. I tried out a lot of bands and began with Elton John, lots of famous balladeers including Joan Baez. Dylan, but was missing several components, but in gym class got to play the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. I created a stretch class for that, no teacher, I was in 10th grade.

Our family was back north (luckily I didn’t have to shoot BB guns in gym class anymore) a year later. I was into Beatles, Bad Co. and a lot of other music.

One thing I missed was country. I thought it simple and somewhat backward but I was wrong. It is true music, granted I can probably transpose many songs into the traditional cowboy chords. Who spoke to me? Johnny Cash, CSNY (not country, but worth mentioning as well as Peter, Paul and Mary). Joan Baez, always, though her chords are too difficult for this neophyte.

At the time we laughed at Glen Campbell while singing his songs, as he is a legend in many ways. This year at the Oscars they sang a song he wrote to his family about having Alzheimers. He has done wonderful work and I love the simplicity of country songs and the lyrics these “cowboys” put to music.

Perhaps I mis-speak but I am not a fan of “entertainers” taking the stage and yelling undecipherable lewd lyrics into a microphone. I grew up with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven. I believe that folk, country and pop have a place and not just on the oldies channel.

Speaking of which, I do not yet have or use Pandora. I do not listen to music in the car as I usually only drive a couple miles per day. My guitar teacher was so pleased that I actually wanted to learn a song that came from this decade, Hey There Delilah. We parted ways and moved before that ever happened.

It just shows that anyone, musician, dancer or otherwise should always keep up with the times but also remember classical training. That is first. For cooks as well. Learn the groundwork and riff away. Cheers! Dee