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I have spent a long and interesting life involved in music, as a performer (piano,) educator (at every level from elementary to graduate school,) solo pianist, bandleader, composer/songwriter; entertainer, storyteller and humorist.
In my final position as a teacher, I taught functional keyboard harmony at Onondaga Community College at Syracuse, N.Y. I earned a B.S. in music education at the Crane Department of music at SUNY Potsdam and a M.S. in music education at Ithaca College.
I also had the honor of serving as president of the New York School Music Association. After retiring from music education I have performed extensively, presenting musical programs which featured stories about the great standards, coupled with performance. These performances were facilitated by my having a repertoire of over 3,000 songs, coupled with extensive knowledge of their origins, which included many humorous stories.
In the last decade, I have worked with a songwriting partner, Maria DeAngelis, a vocalist who provided lyrics and performances of our tunes. We succeeded in having many of our songs used both in movies and network television as background music.
As a bandleader, I was involved in playing with my group for over 1,500 wedding receptions. Because of this extensive experience, I was motivated to write a book WEDDING RECEPTION SECRETS, which provided much valuable and "inside" information (from the viewpoint of a bandleader) for couples who were planning their wedding. Along the way, I composed music for a syndicated children's TV series.
I was the first of four children, born to my Mom and Dad in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Both of my parents, although untrained, had wonderful musical ears. I and my siblings inherited their musical sensitivities.
One can see from the foregoing that I had ample opportunities to enjoy music from several vantage points. I am 83 years old and happy to say that I continue to be very active. I attribute much of my good health to my interest in information in the area of healthy living and care. For the past fifteen years, I have undergone EDTA chelation therapy. I believe my longevity is related to that.
In addition to the foregoing, I must add my deep concern with today's course of events in the world. I've always been interested in politics and what factors are responsible for what is happening in the world.
I sense, with deep sadness, a degradation of manners, morals and public awareness. My gut feeling is that television has been misused, and become a device that Aldous Huxley would have given a prominent role in his BRAVE NEW WORLD.
I have many favorite quotations, but the one that is most profound, in my opinion, is one by Albert Einstein: "WITH THE SPLITTING OF THE ATOM, EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED EXCEPT OUR WAY OF THINKING." *
* In the summer of 1944, I was boatboy at a private consortium of six summer homes on Lower Saranac Lake (The Knollwood.) The occupant of Cottage 6 was Albert Einstein.
I saw him several times over the course of that summer. To me (in retrospect) that was an awesome experience!
Whatever Happened to M.A.D.?
In the early years of the Cold War, the U.S. & U.S.S.R. came close to thermonuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following that event, the two countries discussed the possibility of a "nuclear freeze," to stop the progress of the arms race. Its implication was that a thermonuclear war would destroy us all. This agreement was labeled as Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) Whatever happened to M.A.D. in this scary era?
Monday, July 11, 2011(3 comments)
MUSINGS AT 84
The candid feelings of one octogenarian about the state of affairs in our country and the world.
Sunday, March 27, 2011(9 comments)
What Everyone Should Know About Einstein and the Atomic Bomb
As the world plummets toward disaster after disaster involving nuclear fission in the form of ill-conceived "Pay-the-piper later nuclear power" and potential nuclear war (excluding the nuclear wars already occurring with the use of D.U. weapons,)we should know Albert Einstein's true role in all of the foregoing, and his abhorrence of violence and war.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011(1 comments)
Among the very most favorite songs of Irish singers (especially tenors) is the 1910 song, Mother Machree. It, like many other popular songs, was written for a theatrical production; in this case, one with the title: Barry of Baltimore. This is a type of song that allowed a wide range of emotions which (today) might be termed maudlinness. This is not meant to detract from its sincerity. (Cynics were fewer in the earlier years.
Sunday, March 6, 2011(2 comments)
I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen (Sure-and-it's a "quasi-Irish" song!)
A perennial Irish favorite. But wait a minute- It turns out that "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" was NOT an Irish song at all! The songwriter was an Indiana schoolteacher, who sorely missed his wife (she was away visiting relatives in Ogdensburg, N.Y.) Nevertheless, the words, "Kathleen" along with "across the ocean, wild and wide" conveyed unmistakable thoughts of the Emerald Isle. So it was!
Friday, March 4, 2011(6 comments)
Danny Boy (One of a Kind!)
Danny Boy is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Its tune was collected 1n 1855 and published as "Londonderry Air" or "Air from County Derry"(where it was discovered.) Many individuals set the Irish tune to words. The first successful words were by Katherine Hinkson. The title: "Would God I Were the Tender Apple Blossom." In 1913, the popular version,"Danny Boy" was created by an English lawyer, Fred Weatherly.
Saturday, February 26, 2011(2 comments)
An All Time Musical Standard's Incredible Origin
Sometimes (not very often) the most ravishingly beautiful songs turn out to have had positively strange - if not weird -origins! This song is one of them. As its story unwinds, it is impossible to imagine how some bizarre manifestations of human behavior could have ended up triggering this song's composition. Now that I have your attention - read on !!
Thursday, February 24, 2011(3 comments)
How the Best Loved Song of WW I Was Retrieved...(from a waste basket!)
This song is surely one of the most beloved songs ever written! In these tragic days, the song's lyrics will seem very pertinent, as they express the emotions that accompany our young loved ones, going off to distant lands and wars. Till We Meet Again narrowly escaped being consigned to oblivion. The story of this wonderful song's recovery is quite moving...
Sunday, February 20, 2011(5 comments)
THE UNUSUAL STORY OF A GREAT HIT SONG OF THE 60'S
This is the story of an strange sequence of events, wherein a scribbled note by a Youngstown, Ohio housewife was converted by Johnny Mercer into one of his most famous hit songs. The tale also illustrates this great lyricist's humanity, generosity and unsurpassed musical genius. It is a truly heartwarming tale!
Friday, February 18, 2011(1 comments)
AFTER THE BALL - - THE FIRST BIG HIT SONG
In the songwriting business, everyone's major quest is to write a "hit tune." In past years, this was an achievable goal (even though the odds were incredibly prohibitive!) In today's "music" the same goal's achievability is akin to that of our landing on Mars. This article is the story of that first great monster hit - AFTER THE BALL, written in 1892 by Charles K. Harris. It's still around to enjoy. And it has a melody!!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011(2 comments)
The Strange Story of a Rodgers and Hart Hit Song
Every songwriter's first and foremost dream is to write a "hit" song. However, even the most successful and recognized songwriters were unable to tell whether one of their new songs would be a "hit." In the halcyon"Hit Parade" days, songwriters might have had a strong hunch that a song was going to make it, but no certainty. But then, there were the occasions that a song -totally unexpectedly - would make it big...as a HIT!
Sunday, February 13, 2011(2 comments)
The Song; My Melancholy Baby
A few little-known facts about the song, MY MELANCHOLY BABY, and its composer, Ernie Burnett. This song was his one and only hit, and was written in 1912. But it was a monster, and was used in many movies, including A STAR IS BORN, in which the song was sung by Judy Garland. A few fascinating sidelights are provided in this tale. P.S. Ask any piano player about MY MELANCHOLY BABY (and the mode of its being requested...)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011(3 comments)
AN UNUSUAL MUSICAL TALE
The popular songs of the of the golden age that have endured (standards) become even more dear when we hear the many tales connected with their origins. These stories relate to the originators of the music and the manner in which it became famous. They provide insights which make the melodies and lyrics even more endearing to music lovers. The like of these songs will never occur again. They are truly national treasures!
Wednesday, February 9, 2011(3 comments)
I LOVE THE MUSIC BUT I DON'T KNOW WHY
This article takes note of music lovers who possess ears that are harmonically sensitive. Not all lovers of music have that gift. Thus, a piano man may play incorrect chord changes, and many listeners won't be aware of it. But a small percentage of music lovers DO have a sensitivity to beautiful harmonies, and react accordingly. Many times they are not aware of the reason that the music affords them such tangible thrills!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011(1 comments)
"PERFECT PITCH" (What Does it Have to do with Being Swindled?*
I've been in the music business a long time - as a player, teacher and writer. It's always galled me when folks (including some musicians) have talked about "perfect pitch" in awed tones, as if it were some magical talent. "Perfect" isn't even the right descriptive word, which should be "absolute.") I'm writing this, because people are wasting money on bogus methods of acquiring "perfect pitch." SAVE YOUR $. IT'S TOTAL B.S.!
Sunday, February 6, 2011(8 comments)
MY MUSIC IS TOO OLD FOR TODAY'S SENIORS
Technically, when a person reaches age 55, they are eligible to be referred to with that wonderful appellation, "senior." It's not that it's necessarily flattering. But it certainly has some tangible perks, such as retirement pay (at least up to now...) But for a musical performer like myself, who is used to playing the music they love for them, their reaction to the music I play has become disconcerting. (No pun intended.)
Saturday, February 5, 2011(3 comments)
THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER (some interesting facts)
John Phiip Sousa's STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER is the world's most famous military march. Soon after composing the march tune, Sousa set words to its melody. He was a capable lyricist and s successful composer of operettas. (Few people are aware of this fact.) Thousands of school children learned Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever, and routinely sang the march tune in school!
Friday, February 4, 2011(1 comments)
A SILLY GAME (with an outrageous ending)
Still playing games at age 83. Could it be second childhood? No, not at all. Just making up little original "games" along the way, to relieve the tedium of everyday life. One such game brought unexpected consequences! This is that story, with its ???? ending. Can anybody out there relate to this? Check it and see...
Ramblings #5 - Summer 1948 Lake George
While working as a musician in a band in a Lake George N.Y. nightclub during the summer of 1948, I had a rip-roaring time during which many interesting events occurred. Some of them were happy; some of them were spectacular and some of them were strange (and sad) as in this story.
Friday, January 28, 2011(2 comments)
Who hasn't been frustrated by what has happened to making a simple phone call?
This tidbit may give new insight into the idiocy that has entered our lives! By the way...couple "hypocrisy" with "idiocy," while you're at it.
Sometimes our animals are a hell of a lot smarter than we are... and I'm including the fleas when I say that!
(I wrote a song called TAKE ME BACK TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS.) The words were never more true
Tuesday, January 25, 2011(2 comments)
Gambling: A Malignancy that Thrives on Euphoric Hope Called "ACTION"
America is beset by the malignancy called "gambling." The fabric of our life has been invaded by the "need" for more thrills, and the habit of gambling has permeated almost every walk of life. At a time when we are facing financial catastrophe, the thrill of gambling also provides an escape mechanism. Worst of all, we are walking in the path that other civilizations have followed to their ultimate catastrophic failures.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011(1 comments)
Ramblings KIDBITS#1 Guessing Ages
Can there be anything funnier* than KIDS, as they learn to handle conversations without the inhibitions that gradually change a wonderful lack of the same to a carefully- considered caution! How funny, as they simply blurt out exactly what's on their young minds. I'll bet you have copious memories of your own kids' amusing rejoinders. Isn't it sad that we have to lose our natural sense of honesty? *Not always! funny!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011(2 comments)
Some Sarah Palin Palindromes
As I was ruminating about the problem that (in my mind) is Sarah Palin, the word,"palindrome" suddenly occurred to me. This was fortuitous, because it seemed to offer a possibility for some verbal skulduggery! (A "palindrome" is a word or phrase which reads the same backward or forward. I consulted some lists of palindromes that seemed to be pertinent to Sarah and her proclivities. Here they are!
can YOU contribute any?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011(4 comments)
Here, at last, is an article which analyzes the root causes of the degradation of so-called "popular music." Those who are dismayed by the horrendous musical fare available to the public now have a "how and why" it happened, coupled with a more sinister turn of events (emphasis of VISUAL over AUDIO. Thank you, TELEVISION and your devil's spawn of
SCREENS EVERYWHERE! There is no return to the comfort of gorgeous sound!