reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the organ bench. [k.s. friday]

organ pipes

no one else.  there was literally no one else i knew who took organ lessons.  eight years old and i was the only one.  everyone else i knew took piano lessons.  they went to the new local music store –munro music on larkfield road in east northport – and had lessons in itty studios downstairs and came back upstairs to pick out sheet music from a big wall featuring the latest hits and books of collected artists, written out for various levels of piano-playing ability.  me?  i went to mr. i-never-knew-if-he-even-had-a-first-name sexton’s house (now, think about the torture my peers had with that name) and took organ lessons in the addition adjacent to the garage.  there was no wall of sheet music, were no cool guitars hanging up begging to be purchased, no amplifiers or drums.  just that one organ.  no windy or ode to billie joe or i’m a believer easy piano for me.  it was beautiful dreamer and long, long ago.  and hymns.  lots of hymns.  but i had been asking for lessons since i was five and the little chord organ that was my grandmother’s was moved aside and a ‘real’ organ with two manuals (keyboards) and real pedals and cha-cha button settings was added to the corner of the dining room that was next to the kitchen and the living room.

when i was ten i tearfully played the pipe organ for my brother’s wedding, the processional as my sweet sister-in-law walked down the aisle to my big brother.  yesterday i was talking to john whelan, a master celtic accordionist the exact same age as me, and we talked about the first real gig we did.  his was at 12 and he actually got paid.  mine was this wedding and, for obvious reasons, payment was out of the question.  i got to wear a really pretty peach-colored party dress and white shoulder stole and wept my way through the difficult piece.

after some time, i somehow convinced my parents that they needed both an organ and a piano and they signed me up for piano lessons.  joan ostrander, the very chic music teacher, was my first piano teacher and i adored her.  she pushed me and i adored that too.  i spent long hours practicing on the piano bench with my dog missi sleeping underneath, my dad whistling in the background.

in years to come i studied with the teacher-of-all-teachers alan walker and was convinced that the piano and i were kindred.  i taught more piano lessons on long island (and later florida and even wisconsin) than i can remember, back then driving from one house to another, delighting in each student’s joy playing the piano and progress no matter the pace, hoping to emulate the teaching style of this amazingly kind man.  after lessons we talked life and ham radio and ate open-faced crunchy peanut butter sandwiches.  music is not just about music, you know.

during my undergrad, i studied piano in college with one of the professors but kept bringing in pieces of original music and kept veering off course from assigned large scale pieces, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

as no real surprise, i majored in music composition, the first (?) step toward living as an artist, the first step in a road that leads to here and now.  so much in-between.  the gigging composer music timeline is filled with albums, concerts, performances, cd sales, radio and tv, qvc appearances, barnes & noble and borders, listening wall placement, phone calls, yamaha, traveling, shipping and more shipping, recording labels, carrying boxes, standing in the rain on flatbed trucks playing and singing, driving, driving, driving, press releases, graphic design, writing, recording, supportive family and friends and coworkers and a person named hope hughes.

but that organ.  it has kept on re-appearing.  somehow it is one of the threads that has woven its way through my life.  there aren’t that many of us out here:  people who play the organ, who can finesse a chosen timbre through the pipes and who can actually play lines of bass notes on the pedals.  those lessons from the very beginning somehow set the stage for me to work for three decades already as a minister of music.  conducting choirs and handbells and ukulele bands and worship bands, choosing music for services and performing groups, leading and shaping worship and, yep, playing the organ…it has been a constant.  there are days that i will pull out all the stops and play as loud as the organ pipes will allow.  its bellowing echoes through the sanctuary and i giggle as i think of my ten year old self, sitting on an organ bench in williston park on long island and crying.

what would i have thought if i had known that fifty years later i would still be sitting on an organ bench?

canyon love

to visit iTUNES click on the image above or on this link

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

organ pipe people website box

 


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playing the same stuff. [merely a thought monday]

string bass with frame

just last saturday evening, out on cape cod, we lingered over seafood and glasses of wine with jonathan, our bass player.  we were sitting around his table, chatting about music.

he told us about a group of musicians he rehearses with on an irregular basis.  they play a wide variety of instruments and they all just gather casually together and jam on some “good music”.  “…and once in a while we play the same stuff…” he stated.  his voice trailed off as he thought about what he had just said and we all laughed.  we can picture a whole group of jonathans in the room – all exuberant and, each, lovers of all music, all pick-ready, mouthpiece-ready, reed-ready, hands-poised-over-the-keys-ready.  that kind of enthusiasm shouldn’t be curbed or restrained.  the sheer joy of playing – now that’s the reason to be all together.  it’s not about playing all the notes on the page, playing them all perfectly at the same time, playing them with no mistakes.  it’s about heart.  it’s about the breaths and the rests of silence, the flip-flop your heartbeat makes when soaring notes come together in a sweeping harmony, the tears you get in your eyes when something you just played or heard is sublimely sweet, dynamically touching, deeply resonant, the belly laugh with the ridiculously dissonant moment.

the ukulele sip ‘n strums are about just that.  if we can choose to teach anything at those sip ‘n strums, i would choose to teach just these things.  the things of joy.  music is all about individual hearts…coming together with the immense gift of twelve notes at our literal fingertips.  no matter what we play, we are playing the same stuff.

ukulele laughter

what playing music looks like.

christmas sing dec 7 sip n strum copy

rackcards for sip n strumtake 2.PRINT copy (deleted b'87d4bf65abee4940dca3fe6ba53c1bc6') copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

at jonathans with bear website box

UKULELE SIP ‘N STRUM ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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free is not free. [flawed wednesday]

FREE2-4yearOlds

i went back. we had passed this on the street while taking a walk. when it registered a moment or two after we passed it, i had to go back.  out of context, it made me laugh aloud.  i showed it to jen and she and i both decided on a 3 year old.  i mean, it’s a FREE 3 year old!!!!

now….everyone knows THAT’S just not true.  i think wryly about the lifestyle difference between people i know who have never had children and people i know who have had 2-4 olds (who grow up into snack-devouring-soccer-playing-music-lesson-taking 8 year olds who grow up into gatorade-guzzling-granola-bar-munching-tennis-playing-nike-sneaker-loving-makeup-wearing-hair-dying teenagers who grow up into university-tuition-paying-care-package-receiving-ramen-noodle-eating-dorm-room-paraphernalia-moving-apartment-sharing-car-driving college students who grow up into….. )

you get the picture.  free is not free.

but i can’t think of anything more priceless.

 

read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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