This blog about our cherished instruments started in January 2022 and will be updated with another post each month. We send the updates out through our monthly newsletter. If you aren’t a member of our mailing list, you can join us through the link on this page below.

JANUARY 2022

 

 

Larry's First Guitar

 

As a musical couple, we obviously own a sizable number of musical instruments. They all are very dear to us, but some of them are especially close to our hearts. In this thread, we'd like to share with you some of these instruments, and the stories behind their significance to us.

 

Here is the first instrument - the one that began Larry’s musical life.

 

 

This is the first guitar I owned, learned how to play on, and first performed with. But it wasn’t my first encounter with playing music…

 

My maternal grandfather died in 1963, and with the money he left my mother, she bought a piano. (This piano is still active, located in my sister’s house on a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley.) I used to play around on it, having no technical understanding of what I was doing, but just having fun. By profession, my mother was a teacher of music appreciation and did not believe in forcing people to study how to play instruments. She knew that if anyone were serious about wanting to learn how to play, they would. I wasn’t serious about the piano at that time.

 

Here’s a picture of my beautiful mother and me by our piano. I was in the army when this photo was taken, 1978.

 

 

But the guitar I mentioned above is not the first guitar I connected to. One day, late in 1969, I was at my cousin’s house in Miami. In his bedroom, he had a wall closet with sliding doors. It was partially open, and leaning up against the side wall, as if illuminated by a celestial light beam, an old acoustic guitar stood in all its glory. I asked if I could borrow it, took it home, started playing around with it, and after just a few days told my mother that I wanted to learn how to play.

 

Mom got me a teacher - Richard Schlott -  who didn’t teach me how to play the guitar, but rather to LOVE the guitar. The first thing he taught me was a simple blues riff! He didn’t teach me how to read notes (I still don’t know how to), he only taught me chords. He came to our house once a week, until we made Aliyah in November 1970.

 

Richard was an amazing guy – 6’4” in all directions(!), a guitar teacher as well as piano teacher, night-time police officer, and an all-around fun guy. He used to tell me all about his electric train set that covered the complete floor of the basement in his house! I’m sorry I never got the chance to see that.

 

(Below - invoice from teacher Richard - my parents paid $3 per lesson!)

 

A month or two after Richard started coming to our house to help me with my passion, my parents came home with a big cardboard box, and in it – the guitar. My guitar.

 

I used to come home from high school and sit for HOURS playing the guitar, every day. Another cousin of mine gave me two cassette tapes of compiled music that he thought I would like, with songs by Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Don McLean, James Taylor, Bread, CSNY, Joni Mitchell, and a few more. That’s where my first musical influences came from. (That is, aside from classical music at home – my first cinema experience was at the age of two –  Disney’s “Fantasia,” of course.)

 

I had actually heard of Simon & Garfunkel before we came to Israel – in 3rd grade literature class in Miami, we were taught the lyrics of “Feelin’ Groovy,” but I didn’t fully connect to the duo yet.

 

This is me playing the guitar at the age of 14 – same picture as the photo that is glued to the guitar in the top picture.

 

In my early teens, I started connecting to the piano as well. I never took piano lessons, just took the notes I heard on the guitar, found them on the piano, embellished them there a bit, and transferred the new sounds back to the guitar. By going back and forth like that, I succeeded in reaching the playing level that I am at today, on both instruments.

 

Together with that, I also owned a small audio tape recorder, and would record songs from the radio or records, and play guitar along with the music I was listening to. For hours and hours. Until I got it exactly like the source.

 

I didn’t learn anything about voice development until I was well into my 40s. That’s the way I looked at singing – as an accompaniment to my guitar playing, and not the other way around! Mindy helped me understand the importance of trying to reverse the priority – something I don’t think I have completely learned yet.

****

I don’t have any photos from the occasion, but the first time I ever performed in front of a real audience, I was 16 years old, in 10th grade. It was at the end of the year party for the school. I stood on a stage in front of about 400 people, with this guitar and one vocal microphone. The guitar wasn’t even amplified! The vocal mic picked up whatever it could, I guess. I sang one song – “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard,” and that’s it. I got off the stage, not exactly understanding what had just happened.

 

This is also the guitar that I carried with me almost everywhere during my army period - including during basic training! I was always ready to give the guys a few moments of musical pleasure when we had the time. In fact, after a while one of my closer friends in basic training told me that there was a rumor going around the base that Paul Simon’s brother was among the recruits there – and that most of the soldiers believed it!

 

The guitar itself is now hung on the wall. It can’t be played anymore. It was functional until about twelve years ago. We used to keep it in the living room, standing on the floor and leaning up against a bookcase. One day, while I was upstairs, K.C. (our mischievous cat) was playing too rambunctiously near it, knocked it over, and the headstock cracked right in the middle. It’s a sentimental instrument to me, but not valuable enough to invest in keeping it fixed. So, it has a place of honor on our office wall, right behind me as I type these words.

 

 

And that’s the story of my first guitar. Next month we’ll tell you all about Mindy’s piano....

 

Musical Instrument Blog Posts:

MAY 2022

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MARCH 2022

FEBRUARY 2022

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054-6446396 / 050-5921628
larry@larryandmindy.co.il
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mindy@larryandmindy.co.il