It is important to remember our life, otherwise it lacks meaning. There are people that have a profound influence upon us. They help shape the people that we will become. Tonight I have been remembering the people that participated in my music education.
My music education began in third grade. That would have been in 1963-1964. Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Burt came to our school and administered a hearing acuity test. Those that scored highly were asked if they would like to participate in the Paducah City Schools string program and I was one of them. They gave us a flyer to take home to discuss with our parents whether we wanted to participate in the program or not.
I remember forgetting about it until the last moment. My dad made a heroic effort to rent a student violin so that I could participate. From the third grade through the sixth grade Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Burt taught string class for an hour after school, two days a week. We were supposed to practice every day between classes but I rarely did.
Then in seventh grade, I started Junior High School at Brazelton. I took string class every day. Mr. Mansfield was the teacher. He was very patient with me. I still didn’t practice much at home but since we played every day in class, I got better quickly. I got Mononucleosis that year and was out of school for three months. String class was one of the few classes that I passed that year.
I changed school systems the next year. I went to Lone Oak Upper Elementary in the eighth grade. They had a band but no string program. I missed string class a lot.
My freshman year at Lone Oak High School, I took A Capella Choir. Mr. Murphy was a great teacher. I learned a lot about music, performing, and competing from him. We did well in the regional choir competition.
My Sophomore year at Lone Oak High School, I took A Capella Choir again but my folks bought me a trombone and I added laboratory band and music theory to my curriculum. Mr. Ransdell taught the band class and music theory. Laboratory band was the class where you learned to play an instrument if you had gotten a late start. Since my string skills didn’t count for much, I was stuck there learning how to play. I had fun anyway. I loved hanging out with the band members.
We moved to Murphysboro, Illinois the next year. I didn’t take music my junior or senior year in high school. By that time I was a fairly good guitar player and I occasionally played violin. I have continued playing music to this day. I have learned to play mandolin, ukulele, and Celtic harp. I also can play a little bit of keyboards.
Mr. Mansfield, Mr. Burt, Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Ransdell have my eternal thanks for teaching me music. It has been an important part of my life and has helped me deal with the stress and challenges of adult life.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.