This last week Sam Sniderman, the originator and founder of Sam the Record Man died. What I remember about him was that wonderfully bright, flashing record sign outside his Young Street, Toronto business. Recordings were in high regard and high demand, Sam's store was one where they lined up to get the new Beatles' albums at the crack of dawn. Sam was also a great philanthropist using his wealth to change the lives of many.
There were a number of "regular" people who told stories of how the recordings purchased and the visits made to Sam's made a difference in their lives. For me, even though I didn't go to downtown Toronto often, the huge sign was like a beacon to the world of music.
As I thought about the words said about this venerable "music man", my thoughts went back to those people who made a huge difference in my musical life.
When I was 8 years old, we got an old upright piano. It was painted white and had an oil painting in glass right in the front. It was a piece of art itself. Apparently, someone was moving and glad to get rid of it. Piano now obtained, my mum signed me up for group lessons after school with Miss Flavell.
I LOVED Miss Flavell. I don't remember how many of us were in the class but she had private teaching time with each of us and while that went on the rest worked away at theory in our work books. I loved music theory and I loved playing the piano with Miss Flavell. She was warm and supportive. She corrected mistakes but first gave praise for what you did well. I think, had I been able to stay with Miss Flavell, I might have mastered piano. But we moved to Chatham then and my two years of group classes were history.
Other memorable moments for me were Bobby Curtola's visit to our high school, going to see West Side Story at the O'Keefe Centre on my 13th birthday and playing leads in our high school musicals. My high school music teacher Mrs. Archibald was a huge part of all I learned. Not only did she do the musicals but choirs as well. We sang through every lunch hour. The other half of lunch we studied music one grade ahead. I learned to read scores, orchestral forms and listening. We appreciated opera and popular music. She really was the reason I loved and still love music and most of all vocal music. All of those people and experiences shaped my life and certainly enhanced my musical learning.
So what experiences have you had that made a difference in where you are today? What sparked your musical interests? Do you have a Miss Flavell in your life who left you with positive feelings? Click on comments below and share your thoughts.