Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remembering a music teacher

I'm quite a fan of Turner Classic Movies, even though most of the time I forget it exists.  But during an idle moment (I have many of those) I'll occasionally be wandering through the vast wasteland that is television and remember to check TCM.  

I'm not that big on movies, really.  I'm usually not willing to commit two hours of my time to something that forces me to sit and watch a show that probably isn't going to impress me.  If I'm going to see a movie, I prefer to watch an old favorite rather than risk wasting my time on something current I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy.

I like "It's a Wonderful Life", "Little Big Man", "Christine", "It Happened One Night", "The Shining", "Casablanca", "Grapes of Wrath", "Stand By Me", "Easy Rider"... see?  There isn't much to connect any of those except that they're old.  A couple of those date from the thirties, long before I was born.  I am willing to sit down and watch any of them again, at any time, knowing I'm going to enjoy myself.

The other day I was checking Turner Classic's schedule to find something to record for later and saw "Music Man".  I hadn't watched it or thought about it in ages, but decided to record it to watch when Cliff's busy in the shop (he hates musicals, says they don't make any sense).  I first saw the movie in 1963 at one of the big theaters in downtown Kansas City.  I went alone, because I had no social life and nobody to go with.  But I digress.  

I would never have considered watching a musical, ever, had it not been for a music teacher I had in, I believe, the eighth grade.  I was attending the brand new Northgate Junior High School.  I think the class was called "general music".  Oh, that fancy new music room in the new school was something!  

I don't remember the music teacher's name, although I vaguely recall what he looked like.  Occasionally he would put a long-play album on the record player, and our entire time in class that day would be spent listening to a Broadway musical soundtrack.  Some of the songs were familiar... I watched The Carol Burnett Show, after all, and she featured a lot of classic Broadway songs... but they weren't the type of music I would have voluntarily listened to as background music, given the choice.  Forced to listen, I was fascinated by the songwriting skills of Rogers and Hammerstein, and amazed to learn that with the exception of the leading man and lady, not everyone who sings a song in a famous Broadway play is all that talented a singer.  Whoever sang "Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City" wasn't even trying to sound good.  I laughed at the comic songs and fell in love with "Some Enchanted Evening".  I nodded my agreement to "You've Got to be Taught".  

I used my allowance to buy some of these sound track records from the Columbia Record Club.  My country-music-loving parents, used to my usual fare of Elvis, the Everly Brothers, and Rick Nelson, thought I'd taken leave of my senses when they heard the voices of Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin coming from behind the closed door to my room.  

As all things go with teenagers, it was a phase that didn't last too long, but those songs reside in my heart to this day.  Sometimes when I step outside on a lovely morning, I just can't keep from belting out a few lines of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top", or even better, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning".  

I wish I remembered that music teacher's name.   



Leilani Lee said...

Well, music is what got me through high school.. High school would have been miserable if it hadn't been for choir and doing the musicals (Music Man, Oklahoma!, the Fantastics...") Some of those melodies still run through my head along side Crosby Stills and Nash and the Beatles and the Stones...

Jon said...

When you least expect it, you'll probably think of that teacher's name. I was never very fond of musicals - but my three favorites have always been "Oklahoma", "West Side Story", and "Fiddler on the Roof".
I never liked "The Music Man" or "South Pacific". Perhaps the stage productions were better than the campy movies.

I used to love TCM, but I presently don't have a TV. And I remember the Columbia Record Club.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I have some explainable formula for whether a movie is "good" or not. It has to look, feel and sound right. Be true to it's genre. My year of the music teacher was 5th grade and I remember her name, Mrs. Bowie. She had us dance, sing. Such a wide variety of things. I was sharing some memories from that class just the other evening with Hannah.
Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead


I love Broadway and musicals. And Mary Martin was one of the first albums I got of someone from there. Your teachers name will come to you, I have no doubt.