My father bought me an electric organ when I was 7. He liked organ music, but this is not my fault. I was initially disappointed, for I had really wanted a piano, but I learned to love the electric organ. I especially loved manipulating the stops and sounding like a trumpet or a violin, or whatever instrument I chose. I guess it fed my need for control.
My mother found me a teacher. She was old and smelled like old lady perfume and bologna. She gave me baby music, which I resented. My parents let me practice whenever I wanted and never ever complained of the noise I made while I learned – indeed, they often requested me to play for them, even when all I manage was Twinkle Twinkle.
When I was 13 it became uncool to play the organ and I wanted to quit, but my mother found me a new teacher. Her name was Ellen and my interest in the organ renewed, because Ellen was young, in her early 20s, and passionately dedicated to music. She thought I was cool because I played well, or at least she said I did. She gave me cool pieces to play, not stuff from the 40s and 50s like old bologna woman had. Instead I played Bobby Darin songs and Elvis songs and even – very daring for 1963 – Beatles songs. I still remember playing “Michelle” for my father and trapping him into saying he liked it – and then wanting to eat his words when he found out it was from the Beatles. Ha. I caught him.