Music and your family

Last night we went to hear our son-in-law’s 3-piece band play at a local pub. He has been in rock bands since high school, even though music is mainly a serious hobby with him. Last night was a blast! They really had a great sound and gave a great show.

It got me thinking. I took piano lessons as a pre-schooler for a couple of years but gave it up after Mama decided I wasn’t practicing enough and quit paying for the lessons. Later, in third or fourth grade, I had violin lessons. Same story. In college I bought a cheap guitar and some basic music books and “taught myself” enough guitar to suit my own needs. Later I got into drums, but when we moved to this house I just never got around to setting them up and haven’t played drums since.

My mother was a decent pianist. So were her two sisters and one brother (actually he played banjo and not piano). But Daddy and his side of the family may have been close to tone deaf. All I remember about that side is that Daddy tried to sing with poor results.

My older two kids took guitar lessons in grade school, but gave up after a year or two, much like I had done as a kid. The youngest boy wanted lessons but I declined, based on the results of the older two. He was the one to make something out of guitar, though. Still takes lessons and he’s in his 30’s.

My wife is a good pianist, as are her sister and mother.

Almost every interview I have heard with accomplished musicians, regardless of which genre of music they may specialize in, reveals that they came from a musical family and started their interest in music at an early age. Some have admitted to little “natural talent” but have almost always confessed to long hours of practice.

What’s your relationship between your own musical abilities (tastes, even) and those of your family?

Any famous musicians in your blood line?

How seriously do you take the playing of an instrument or in voice training?

Are you adept enough at music to be playing semi-professionally or professionally?

Mom could play the piano, dad was tone-deaf (and color blind). No musicians in my family other than mom, and she wasn’t that good. It was expected that we (the kids) would all participate in lots of (non-sports) extra-curricular activities. I started playing trumpet at 8 years old because I was making too much trouble in class (3rd grade) and they figured it would be a good thing to get me out of the classroom for an hour a day. I sang in the kids church choir.

I’ve played guitar for 35 years now. Made my living at it for 10. Took it up because guitar players get the girls–and they do! I don’t have much talent and I don’t practice much, but playing 6 nights a week in bars did give me a fair control over the instrument.

Now that I have 7 kids, music is a sideline–nobody can support 7 kids playing the guitar. I’m a computer geek by trade; it pays better.

My mom plays…wait for it…ukulele, dixieland banjo and accordian. Oh yeah, I was cool when I a kid. Seriously, I do have fond memories of music in the house. My parents both love jazz - Brubeck, Sarah Vaughn, etc.

My sister and I were forced to take an instrument in school and I was forced to play flute. Can you say “just take my lunch money now”? By the time I was 15 I had left flute behind and picked guitar to meet girls. It was only after working at it for a few months that I realized I might like the instrument itself.

No formal training at all - unless you count 6 months of lessons after I had been playing for about 18 years - well, the lessons were from a top pro who was the musical director and guitarist for Charles Brown, the legendary R&B pianist (my teacher, Danny Caron, accepted CB’s induction into the RnR HoF after Charles Brown died) - so I guess I should count those lessons…

Can’t imagine not playing. My kids know the names of my guitars and talk about how they are going to play, too…

My dad plays drums and guitar and my mom sings. I play flute and piano and am studying music at college (composition, so I’m sure to never have money). My brother is a percussionist; he’s in the pit for the Crossmen drum corps. He’s thinking about going into music as well. My sister is only eight, but she’ll probably end up playing something.

Hmm… my mother tells me that my father could play anything, although I don’t remember him well enough to verify. Although, I do remember that he used to teach me piano. Then he died, and for years, I hadn’t played until my mother forced me to take private lessons with this lady (she was a complete and total battleaxe). I quit the lessons, (or rather, my mother dropped me out after the teacher had raised her fee), and for several years, I stuck to playing my keyboard by myself.

At my high school, there was a music teacher and he taught me that learning an instrument was supposed to be nothing like what I had previously experienced under the “guidance” of Battleaxe Woman. So during our free periods, my best friend and I would go to the instrument room, take whatever instruments we felt like playing, and went at it. I picked up a cello, and succeeded in making it sound like a horrible car accident.

And then, I saw the bass guitar in the far corner of the instrument room. So I dragged it and the amp into the practice room, and kept playing for a few weeks. I had started to play well enough that I was able to make a case to my mother to buy me my own bass (“All right, but if I ever see you get tired of it, you’re in trouble”).
I’ve had my bass for about a year now.

Well, we like many of the same songs, I know.

But, I do not really come from a musical family as such. Both parents have dabbled in an instrument for their own amusement at one time, but this is nothing I’ve really lived with. My stepfather did play piano and organ, though he lost his proficiency during the time I knew him.

I play drums, and I’m learning electric bass and baritone ukulele.

I don’t think, no.

Fairly much so. I like to delve into the technicalities during the times I’m not playing, for entertainment. Then, when I actually do play, I’m not thinking like a robot, but rather going along with whatever moves me (or a structure) while maintaining unconscious access to this “library”, if you will.

Sure, if you count drums. :wink: I’m no Steve Gadd, but I’m no Meg White either (even though I love her style of playing).

My mother sang to me all the time when I was a child. Mostly, she sang the songs that were popular while she was a teen growing up during WW II. She said that she wasn’t any good but she always sounded good to me. She died when I was 14 so I don’t have any adult perspective on whether she had any talent. She did love music and had a large collection of albums of Broadway shows. I often wonder what happened to those albums. I’d love to have them now.
My father claimed he was tune deaf. He said that the only way he knew that the national anthem was being played at a baseball game was because he saw everybody around him get to their feet. I can’t recall him ever listening to music. He was very vocal about the music I played when I was in high school. He loathed it. He scratched several of my LPs by storming into my room and dragging the tone arm across the record’s surface.
In grade school when it came time to pick an instrument to play, the music teacher said he wouldn’t teach me because I was a troublemaker. He had a deal where he got a kickback from the manufacturer for each flutaphone he sold and I found out and called him on it. Nobody in the school administration had any problems with this graft. The principal supported the music teacher when I tried to appeal the ban he imposed. My parents refused to pay for private lessons.
I’ve tried a couple of times as an adult to teach myself the guitar but I can’t make my fingers do what they’re supposed to.
I can’t sing worth a damn either. I have a great ear. I can recognize different artists, styles and subtle differences between different versions of the same song. I can hear the music in my head the way it’s supposed to sound but I can’t make my voice do the things my mind’s ear can hear. It’s one of the great sadnesses of my life. If a genie were to appear and offer 3 wishes, my first wish wish would be to be able to sing. My singing is so bad that it even makes me wince.
I have 3 siblings. They all took music in school and became competent with their chosen instruments. Once they were out of high school, none of them felt motivated to continue playing music.

My extended family is very musical, on both sides. Several professional musicians, including one world class performer who also teaches their specific musical genre. (No further specifics for their privacy’s sake.) I’ve been in or involved with several different local/garage/party bands myself.

My mother took piano lessons as a kid. She later learned to play accordion. My father dabbled in piano, but only just, and later took up clarinet. I never did hear him sing. I showed the ability to pick out melodies on the piano at 3. I started taking lessons at 5, and after I was shown how to operate a piano, two different teachers gave up on trying to get me to play by reading, because I played everything by ear. My mom and I used to sing songs that she knew as a kid, in harmony. At 8, I took up drums (thanks, Ringo!), and guitar at 11. I couldn’t figure out how to play chords, but I learned how to play bass runs on the first three strings, and it progressed from there.

My first professional job was bass player in an adult country/western band when I was 14. I got a call one day, with a guy saying “I hear you can play the bass. Would you like to join our group? Our bass player quit.” I’d only actually ever seen a bass, but not played one for real. So my mom rented a bass and amp for me and I played legions and community centers with them for about a year and a half. I didn’t know any of the songs, but I have a good ear. I played in several more bands in my teens, and by 1980 I bought a Gibson Les Paul Custom (which was stolen two years later).

I played in hundreds of basements, and filled in for guys in bars, and played in home studios on demos and progressed to session work on keyboards, bass, guitars and drums.

One of my brothers is an accomplished blues guitarist, and is well-known in his parts. He also plays drums, some bass and hunt-and-peck keyboards. He started his professional career in a group with our cousin. My other brother plays the radio.

My brother plays guitar and performs in various local bands, though with no set lineup.

My aunt, Joan Brill, was trained at Julliard, plays plays piano professionally, and made her debut at Carnegie Hall. She even has a CD out.

My grandfather played the violin (once with Albert Einstein) and both my grandmothers played piano.

I took piano lessons, but never went too far with it.