Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 6, 1975 · Page 62
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 62

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 6, 1975
Page 62
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Page 62 article text (OCR)

How to Make Music in Your Family By Stuiey Jtctb* Twice a week in San Francisco, the TV set goes dark in the Bob Halky home and the phone is taken off the hook, transistor radios are banished, and the cat is put outside. Then the parents and their five children get down to the pleasant business of making their own music in a small "family orchestra" that tackles everything from symphonies to dance tunes. Says Halley, an electronics engineer: "We may never be good enough to appear with ike San Francisco Symphony, but it's relaxing and pleasant to get together and tootle away. Furthermore, we're improving all the time. Our kids no longer are passive viewers and listeners, content to let somebody else entertain them. Now they "are participants in making music -- and it's made a difference in our lives. Plenty of people like the Halleys are making music themselves, instead of depending on TV, phonographs, radio and movies for their entertainment. From a nation of spectators, some of us are turning into doers, which is all to the good. Statistics bear out the fantastic growth of make-it-yourself music that now attracts 34 million people of all ages, races, and occupations. Last year, non-professional musicians and learners spent $630,000,000 on instruments, sheet music, and accessories. By 1970, industry leaders predict that America will be spending at a billion-dollar-a-year clip on everything from violin strings to spinet pianos. Music is made today in the strangest places. In Los Angeles, taxi drivers formed their own orchestra and play just for fun in the company garage. They don't limit their offerings to popular melodies; recently, they tackled Haydn and Mozart and were blissfully indifferent to the gibes ofc startled colleagues who called the musical cabbies "long-hairs." State Department types in Washington, D.C., from counselors to clerks, have put aside rank aid income differences to organize the "Foggy Bottom Chamber Music Group." They saw away at the classics, Republicans and Democrats together, temporarily forgtt- 4m CHARLESTONW.VA. ring the Cold War, protocol, and other departmental worries in their zest to make music. Top business executives in Atlanta formed the "Sorta 40" orchestra about ten years ago when one of them discovered an old banjo in the attic. He rounded up like-minded associates who decided "it'll be fun to get together and whack out some tunes/' Now the Sorta 40 -- all middle-aged business and professional leaders -- are so good that they play for dances and parties and turn their fees over to charity. · For some reason, music attracts thousands of physicians and surgeons who find that their interludes of music-making provide pleasure and relaxation from long hours in clinics, offices, and hospitals. One of the outstanding amateur musical assemblages in the United States is the famed "Doctors' Orchestral Society of New York City/' which numbers 50 medical men and a handful of professional musicians. In this orchestra, dentists play violins, cello, horn, and bass. General practitioners play flutes and timpani. A dermatologist proved to be a virtuoso on the viola. Occasionally, an obstetrician who plays the oboe has to leave hurriedly during a concert to deliver a baby. Or a surgeon may be summoned' from his drums to" perform an-emergency operation. The doctor-musicians take these defections in their stride, and continue with their music at a spirited pace. Cleveland is proud of its Suburban Symphony that consists chiefly of commuters. In Baltimore, an ad~- vertising agency has a music break each afternoon: its staff members play chamber music and claim that their musical interludes stimulate creative copy-writing and better art work. The "Convertible Notes" are musicians who work for an investment firm in Minneapolis -- clerks, partners, customers' men, and bookkeepers, all making music together after the stock market tickers are silent at the end of the day. There are now 48,000 bands and 20,000 orchestras in our public and parochial schools. More than 14 million youngsters are learning to play a musical instrument of some kind. Formerly a chore, the study of music has been enlived by new \ teaching techniques that make long hours of practice a pleasure instead of drudgery. Children learn by emulation. If your youngsters balk at taking music lessons, don't become insistent about it. Frequently, parents report that their kids became interested after Mom and Dad began taking lessons for themselves and attained a degree of musical profit ciencv. One is never too young to begin musical study and practice on an instrument. Nor is a person ever too old for it. The elderly find music-making a lift for their spirits and a tonic for their bodies. The Strovich Day Center Orchestra of New York City is a major attraction for audiences over 60. All of the 18 musicians began or resumed their musical avocation .after they had retired. Jose Bass, who is 79, energetically plays the violin. .All of his fellow musicians are in their 70's, but show no sign of slowing down, musically or physically. '. Students at one Maine college recently formed a brass ensemble to revive almost-forgotten 17th Century German "tower music." These works were played more than 300 years ago from the towers and belfries of old castles and churches. The young amateur musicians ferreted out the old scores, and find the music a refreshing change from rock-n-roli tunes and other monstrosities aired by too many radio and TV stations. As you might expect, the piano still is the No. 1 instrument in popularity among amateurs. But the recent growth of "country music" and the proliferation of folk singers has thrust the guitar into the No. 2 spot, with almost 5,000,000 people industriously plucking away at that instrument with varying degrees of success. Other stringed instruments rank third in popularity, woodwinds are in fourth position; and brasses are close behind in fifth place. Despite the millions of amateur instrumentalists, singers outnumber them. They flourish in choirs, glee clubs, oratorio societies, operatic workshops, and amateur theatrical troupes that present almost 5,000 musical plays annually. Many people desiring to learn to play an instrument form a club and hire a teacher at group rates. In this manner, they avoid the $5-to$10-an-hour fees charged by private instructors, and can enjoy group lessons for as little as $lan hour per student. Besides, it's more fun .and less embarrassing when your fellow pupils make the same mistakes that plague you! You may never play well enough to win plaudits, but the personal enjoyment to be»derived from a musical instrument is well worth the study involved. Here are a few questions to ask of yourself before you decide which instrument you wish to master: How good is my ear? If you can carry a tune and blend well with a singing group, chances are excellent that you can learn to play almost any instrument. But even if you have a "tin ear," there are many instruments you can learn to play: piano, organ,. accordion, guitar, banjo, drums, marimba, vibra- harp and xylophone. But it's wise to avoid the violin, trombone and a few other instruments that demand discerning tone perception. What am I physically equipped to play? Long fingers and a broad hand are excellent for the guitar. If your arms are quite long, the trombone may be a the instrument for July

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