My original songs are drawn from life. Tony, an elderly gentleman from Palermo, Sicily, who worked all his life as a butcher, told me as we waited in a doctor’s office that “The sweetest words a man could hear was DADDY’S HOME!” “Forget men; I’M GONNA BUY ME A DOG,” was a sentiment expressed by my friend, Donna, after a failed marriage. “I WANT TO THANK THE OTHER WOMAN for taking you away” is Maria’s motto for moving on to better times. “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m gonna find somebody who will,” was a statement by an apparently frustrated man overheard talking to someone on his cell phone and which inspired the song “RUBY PEARL.” IF YOU NEVER TRY, YOU’LL NEVER FALL leads me to TAKE ANOTHER CHANCE because there is always THE POSSIBILITIES OF YET!
Music arrangements for bands can cost about $100 each. Vocal music is cheaper but it all adds up. I taught in poor school districts. My annual budget of $200 for music just didn’t give me great purchasing power in the way of music. I would buy the tunes for my band out of the discount bin—very esoteric stuff in that pile. As a result, when my students traveled off to their respective high schools, every single one of them became section leaders because they could read and play the best. All that training with challenging music. I supplemented those compositions with arrangements of my own. I even arranged the STAR SPANGLED BANNER specifically for my students. If a particular student could only play three different notes- I wrote it for four to give something to aspire to. I also arranged just about every song the choirs performed. And, I wrote in instrumental accompaniaments to be played by the students.
I graduated to writing arrangements for an all a-cappella group that I directed. We all were at a concert once which featured an other all a-cappella choir. They finished their performance with saying that they had performed just about every style of song there was a-cappella. Someone in the front row mentioned that they had not performed a march. The choir director remarked that marches were not performed as a-cappella arrangements. I really don’t know how it was that we were invited up to sing our march medley which began with a Sousa march. I was so very proud when the choir director asked for my arrangement and permission to sing it on the remainder of their tour.
From there I graduated to writing jazz style arrangements for intermediate level players. I took my earnings from that gig and invested in a FINALE program. What a wonderful thing. I can press a button and change keys! Print out parts for trumpet then Eb sax by pressing a transpose key-Wow! I can even listen to what it sounds like with a sax sound and a clarinet sound and even a choir in an auditorium sound. Such a long way from those days of pencil and erasers and markers and white out. I still have a supply of staff paper, though; the good heavy duty manilla stuff -and the tablets. Why would I ever go back?