Who Said You Can't Go Bach?
Growing up during the Sixties, in 1964 I entered Lincoln Jr. High as a seventh grader.
Bewildered, but determined, I dexterously manipulated the combination lock on my locker to ditch books and
pick up others for the next round of classes with an allowance of two minutes to get to my destination before
a tardy slip was issued. That same year the Beatles arrived in the US, and made their first television
appearance on The Ed Sullivan
Show. Soon the British Invasion revolutionized music with the likes of The Dave Clark Five, Freddie
and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, The Rolling Stones, The Animals…Since being hip meant
keeping up with bits and
pieces, I could recite the top 40 hits backwards, shared the latest gossip printed in Tiger Beat, and divulged the latest 45s
or albums I acquired over the weekend from Ann&Hope.
On the subject of music, one of our curriculum “electives” was
Music. Elective, my achin’ Bach – Art, Music, Home Ec or Shop were indiscriminately assigned to students each
semester. No one in their right mind would have elected to take Music which was so far removed from the beat.
We gotta get out of this place if it’s the
last thing we ever do! Mrs. Nightingale- that’s right- a diminutive music teacher with the last name
of a singing bird – would see to it we stayed caged and warbled for her.
telling you now, the first thing to tick me off about Music was when Mrs. Nightingale
grouped us according to our singing voices by listening to a solo acappella in front of our
classmates. Maybe I could have reached the high
notes most of the girls before me attained, but I’ll be darned if I’d screech off key for everyone’s amusement.
Humbled and disgraced, I accepted my teacher’s verdict – alto – one of the boys!
Despite the chip on my shoulder, I began to
roll over for Beethoven, Bach, Handel, and Mozart – dudes I previously lumped as foppish with their powdered
wigs, knickers, and puffy ruffled shirts.
Beethoven earned my respect for continuing to compose even after becoming completely deaf. I especially appreciated Bach’s organ fugues after realizing
and Fugue in D Minor” set the ominous mood for many
a horror movie classic. I enjoyed being able to
distinguish each composer’s major opus by the characteristics of each symphony. One day my father came home from work with a pile of
discarded mystery albums minus their jackets and centers. He fashioned a wooden disc to accommodate those doughnut holes
which fit over the spindle. Though the primitive
solution produced somewhat of a drag, I delighted in the discovery of classical music.
Who said you can’t go Bach? I subtly introduced classical music to my students during
independent work time. They balked at first, but
eventually, begged me to play various compositions. Thanks to Mrs. Nightingale, I grew to appreciate the first
wave of the long-haired European Invasion – Bach in the day!
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