Guitar Lessons at Matty’s Music Centre #AtoZChallenge

G is for Guitar Lessons at Matty’s Music Centre. Seventh of 26 posts in the April 2023 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: Endwell: My High School Years — adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey. [Note: This post is also a #MusicMovesMe blog hop. Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…]

When Britpop and R&B music took off in the Sixties, the guitar became a very popular instrument among teens.

Simultaneous development of a youth counterculture, featuring folk tunes, message music, and a blues revival, only added to the guitar’s mystique – and I longed to play.

Other instruments came first

However, my mom (Peg) was a music teacher (more on her in Letter P) — so besides making sure I was in the school chorus, she tried me out on a variety of other instruments first.

Guitar lesson ad, Binghamton Sunday Press, 2 Oct. 1966. I’m not sure if Matty Vivona was my teacher, or someone else, but despite my instructor’s bent toward country and western music, he taught me enough so I could move on to the music I loved.

Piano lessons were a given, as we had an upright tucked in the basement behind our rec room. I studied piano with Miss LaFrance up the street, who Mom also sometimes called on to accompany her students’ performances.

From those lessons, I learned to drill scales, play some basic classics, and read music. I kept at it until I learned to play “Moon River” (the 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie theme) by heart, but then my interest waned.

My last piano song. I kept at the paino until I learned to play “Moon River” (the 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie theme) by heart, but then my interest waned.

Mom also tried me on clarinet (I found the reeds fascinating, but didn’t take to it), recorder (fingering was too tricky), and violin (which cricked my neck). But nothing stuck until I took up the guitar – ironically, the one instrument Mom couldn’t play!

At last: the guitar!

Naturally, I wanted to accompany myself on pop and rock-and-roll and even bluesy tunes like Lenny Welch’s “Since I Fell for You” – one of my all-time favorite songs, which hit the charts in 1963. And I wasn’t averse to learning some folk songs, either.

Alas, Mom hooked me up with a country and western guitar teacher – maybe the only one she could find or afford. He wore plaid flannel shirts and jeans and would wow me with Chet Atkins-style country guitar riffs at the start of our lessons in the back room of Matty’s Music Centre. Sigh.

Lenny Welch’s “Since I Fell for You” – one of my all-time favorite songs, which hit the charts in 1963. I eventually learned the guitar chords so I could accompany myself.

Luckily, though, he was good at teaching the basics, and I was motivated. Before long I had mastered the guitar capo and finger picking, and learned enough chords to work my way through the Joan Baez Songbook. I eventually figured out the chords for “Since I Fell for You,” too!

A wonderful creative outlet

A Yamaha acoustic guitar. Once I proved I was serious, Mom upgraded me from a starter guitar to a Yamaha acoustic. I didn’t perform, I just played for pleasure – and that guitar provided a wonderful, creative outlet for me throughout my high school years.

One of my favorite folk tunes was Woodie Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd” about an outlaw who used his funds to help poor folks. I sang it to my toddler sisters at bedtime, and they always called it “Deputy Sheriff” after Floyd’s first confrontation with a lawman who insulted his wife.

(Those bedtime concerts apparently made a lasting impression, because my youngest sister Carol surprised me by telling the story at my retirement party!)

Once I proved I was serious, Mom upgraded me from a starter guitar to a Yamaha acoustic – which I still have. I didn’t perform, I just played for pleasure – and that guitar provided a wonderful, creative outlet for me throughout my high school years.

Up next, H is for Homecoming Float. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.

This post is also a #MusicMovesMe blog hop, powered by Linky Tools. Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

© 2023 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

30 thoughts on “Guitar Lessons at Matty’s Music Centre #AtoZChallenge”

  1. So I take you are not wearing anything plaid with jeans and feeling a twang for Hee Haw:)) I like both songs and the last one is so appealing to one’s heart. I enjoyed reading about your escapades with learning music. I took piano from a nun but she was fun…but never have long nails or she would push your thumb into the keys. I actually don’t like long finger nails.

    1. Nope, I think I am allergic to plaid 😉 Funny how many folks took piano as kids. Sorry your teacher wasn’t fashion forward on the manicure front.

  2. It’s interesting to read your history with music. I just went to a talk for the play Once during which the music director and one of the actresses shared their histories of playing musical instruments. They had parents who guided them along and now both play several instruments. Their choices were part strategic and part personal affinity.

    1. Great story, Susan! I have to hand it to my music-teacher mom for being patient with me while I was trying to find a good instrumental fit. I’m sure she was trained to do just that when working with her students.

  3. Molly,

    I love guitar music! Secretly I always wanted to play but I have small hands so holding one didn’t feel comfortable. That’s okay, I probably would’ve lost interest as a kid anyhow. To this day, I still want to learn how to play the piano. Maybe there’s hope I can do that. Thanks for joining the 4M party. Best of luck to you in the A2Z challenge. As you know, I’m sitting out this time around. Maybe next April I’ll feel more energized. 🙂

    1. Glad to be part of the 4M party — hearing some fun tunes. I sat out last year, so I empathize with your choice. Some years it’s just a bit much, but so far I’m hanging in this year 🙂

  4. I love stories of how people got their first start on a musical instrument. I’m glad you and your mom were successful in finding the guitar for you to learn. Many of my musician friends started on different instruments before they discovered their one true love.

    My mom was my first musical inspiration as she had taken piano lessons during her teenage years (I still have her lesson diary!) and we always had a piano in our home. But I didn’t think I had the coordination to play so many keys. I might not have discovered the horn except that in 4th grade when we lived in Frankfurt, Germany a local music store put on a display of musical instruments at my school. My mom took me and let me choose an instrument. I liked the alto saxophone because my dad had a big collection of jazz records that I loved listening to, but the French horn with its three keys looked easier to play than the saxophone. (Little did I know how hard it really was!) But the real key to my lifelong interest in music was how my mom had the good fortune to find me an inspiring music teacher. Later when it didn’t seem I had made a commitment to the horn she tried guitar, piano, drums, concertina, and even recorder (which later became my second musical passion.)

    1. Kudos to you for taking up the recorder, which I found too challenging (but which my mom loved to play!). It’s interesting to read how your musical path was similar to mine — trying this instrument and that before finding the right fit (both culturally and musically :-). As you say, this seems to be the standard path to bonding with a musical instrument.

  5. I learnt to play the piano as a child and in my twenties thought I would try my hand at playing a guitar. I was sharing a flat with friends at the time, so, no access to a piano. . I was never into pop music, but liked folk. Sadly I never came to grips with the guitar., and had trouble tuning it – so my guitar experience was short .

    1. Sounds like you went through what I did, trying various instruments to see what fit. Although I loved rock and blues, folk was a more natural fit for me overall.

  6. I traded a portable typewriter for a guitar at a pawn shop in the ’60s and got as far as being able to accompany myself singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Blowing in the Wind” + a couple of other popular folk songs of the age, but that was as far as I got. My fingers holding down the chords would get so sore. So I gave up on the guitar and went to the piano and singing. 🙂

    1. Great story and there definitely is that fingertip pain to deal with until the calluses form. I started out on steel strings, so the Yamaha’s plastic strings were a relief!

  7. I think Matty’s was gone by the time I moved here in 1986 (we spent enough time on Washington Avenue in those days). I am one of the few (perhaps) who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s without any music lessons. Not in our budget, and, when I think back, neither of my parents (to my knowledge) played any instruments. I was in my elementary school chorus for two years, which was enjoyable. My father in law played guitar, keyboard and perhaps a couple of other instruments. He played in a band weekends that did weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. for several years, and also taught guitar. He tried teaching guitar to my husband but my husband couldn’t manage the chord changes with his fingers. I still don’t play any instruments and it makes me a little sad. Incidentally, I am part of a musical meme whose members post each Sunday or Monday and if you wanted to join us this Sunday or Monday with this post, we would love to have you. The linky for this week will be on my blog post tomorrow.

    1. It’s never too late for music lessons. In fact, it is recommended for brain health as we age! I’d love to join the musical blog hop. I’ll check out the linky on your blog. Thanks for the invite!

  8. How funny. After all this time, to learn that we both took guitar lessons at Matty’s.

    1. I didn’t know you took guitar lessons there either! Did you have the country and western teacher, or did you luck out with someone more hip?

  9. Me too, learning piano (for 12 years of lessons!- what more could I learn?) and at least how to read music! So choir wasn’t that hard. But my tiny fingers couldn’t do the guitar chords, so I just enjoyed others playing.

    1. I was in chorus, too, up until junior year of high school. And I took it up again in college for my music credits. Ended up singing the Messiah at the Buffalo Philharmonic before moving on to other things.

  10. I played piano in my pre-teen years. The guitar never called me to play. I remember my sister got one with green stamps (I think) but never learned to play it.
    You did so many different kinds of things!

    1. I feel like piano lessons were ubiquitous in that era. But I was glad to finally find the guitar, a more portable — and popular! — instrument.

  11. Reading through your teen age years, I’m amazed how much you did, with all the activities. Avidly waiting for the rest of the stories.


  12. How fortunate that you finally got the instrument you really wanted.

    I only ‘play’ piano – more ‘play at’ , really. I tried guitar and ukelele – no good – and had to teach recorder to 9-year-olds, barely keeping one step ahead of them!

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