[Harp-L] Your First Time

I would be interested in hearing about the experience that gave some of the
folks on the list the music bug.  If you can, add a few lines about the type
of instruction whether it was family or formal and the method.

Here is mine.  It was in the early 1950's.  I was five.  My Mom and Dad had
sent me to my uncle's farm for a couple of weeks in the heat of the summer.
In the days before AC (and electricity in farmhouses for that matter), it
was too hot to do much of anything in the afternoon.  My uncle asked me to
come into a room on the darkened and shady side of the house.   It was a
bedroom.  He sat down beside me on the bed and handed me his Mandolin.  I
remember that it was worn but looked solid.  I know now that it was a Gibson
F model acquired in the late 1930's when he had been a professional
musician.  For the rest of that afternoon, he taught me the chord shapes to
play in open G.  By the end of the afternoon he had me three chording over
the lyrics of the old Bob Wills number, "Take Me Back To Tulsa."   I didn't
know it then but I was hooked.   

In later years, he and my cousins who all played taught me to listen and
feel for the tension that signaled a chord change until if I could hum the
melody I had a good chance of faking it.  They taught me to tap my foot and
strum in time.  They taught me to sing a few notes in a range where I was
comfortable and then work a chord up the neck of the guitar until I hit the
key that matched.  But mostly, we just played together and occasionally
swapped licks like bass runs, turnarounds and "breakdowns."  That was my
musical education until I was teenager and by that time, I had been playing
by ear for so long that I had no patience for beginner's piano books,
scales, single note melodies and above all trying to read music.  I guess
that was my loss.  I never did learn to read music.  Later in life, when
arthritis in my hands and shoulders kept me playing guitar at times, I took
up harmonica and the ukulele.

Bill Kumpe
Tulsa, OK 


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