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February 8, 2013

Gary Church: Thanks, Mr. Farone, for fixing me up with my main squeeze

NEW CASTLE — There are times when I may poke a little fun at myself for being able to play the accordion.

It all started at age 6. My mother thought it would be a good idea for me to take lessons.

She signed me up at Hammond’s Music Store on East Washington Street and I was on my way to accordion fame and fortune.

Within a week of bringing my little 12-bass accordion home, I had written my first song.

I called it, "Mother and Child."

It never became a hit.

What brought this memory back? Last week my accordion teacher, Chuck Farone, passed away.

Even at 6 years old, reading music wasn't my strong point.

It didn't take me long to figure out the numbers at the top of the music staff that showed what finger to use also matched what note I was to play.

I just followed the numbers and didn't read the notes.

Then came the big lesson where the numbers no longer matched the notes.

Chuck played the next week’s lesson for me, before I left.

That was all I needed. I played the song for next week by ear, not reading the notes at all.

He was so amazed that he brought all the other teachers in to hear me.

When Chuck went to the service, I quit taking lessons until he got out several years later.

The musical influence he had on me still shines through today. He taught me all the fancy chords.

I played songs like “Stardust,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” and “Lady of Spain.”

Most accordion lessons he gave me had the guitar chord written above the note.

I finally learned to read the one line of notes and use the chords written above it.

To show Chuck’s influence, all the music I use nowadays features words with the chords written above them.

I'm still not good at reading notes.

Chuck also electrified my accordion so I could blast it out while playing in church.

I still have the same accordion he sold me back in the early ’60s.

Upon request, I may be able to play “Lady of Spain” and “Beer Barrel Polka.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Farone.

As long as I am alive, part of you is still in me.

 

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