October 8, 2007

My Music Background

Filed under: My childhood, What went wrong, What went right? — Reb Moshe @ 2:14 am

My father as a teen worked for Radio City Music Hall and CBS. His music teacher thought he was a genius as he not only played music by ear but he had perfect pitch. I remember him once tuning a friends piano by ear. It was a sad thing for my family when we gave away an theater organ he had put together himself. Quite literally, my father could name any classical or new age music from 2-3 notes.

As a child, I was taught to hear the difference between Bach, Chopin, Vivaldi and to appreciate musical talent. Having heard music in my house from sunrise to sunset, I simply rebelled from this older sound until life’s pressures helped me to appreciate the music of my father. During my rebellion, I learned to appreciate literally every musical art form and it is quite funny that in the end, today, my favorite composer is Bach.

Maybe it was because my father couldn’t hold a note with his voice even if his life was dependent on it, that he lived this dream through me. I was the only one singing songs Friday Night on Shabbos in my home. It was always my fathers wish that I would one day become a cantor. Well, I probably need a bit of brush up for something like that:)

My Uncle and Grandmother played the mandolin. Since they grew up as Gerer Chassidim, the music they played was primarily nigunim they heard from their fathers table. My greatgrandfather, Gedalya Aharon was known for his Hachnasas Orchim. He would invite Polish Soldiers to dine with them on shabbos.

My mother played the flute when she was in her teens. Over the years, I had tried to take lessons from my parents in piano and Flute but what can I say? I had learned to read notes and play a little but I was distracted by sports. In my early 20’s, I learned viola from the top musician in the Baltimore Symphony. She taught me for free, so great was her love of music. Unfortunately, during that age period, I simply didn’t have the time to travel back and forth for lessons. It was a 1 hour trip each way by horse and buggy (okay, maybe I am not that old).

So leaving my favorite instrument, the viola aside (second favorite piano played only on a Baldwin, Third soprano sax), I tried living my dream through my wife. She is a piano composer who plays by ear and you have heard many of her compositions on the site.

As far as my singing, I used to sing all the time as a boy but I had stopped when people made comments about my voice when I was about 10. From that day on, I never sang in public ever again until I was 20 years old. For me, getting my first car meant having a place to sing. I believe there was a few Shabbos meals that I sang quite literally, about 7 hours straight. Granted, I was the only one left at the table the last 4 of those hours. If you asked my sister, what she remembers about my suidos on Shabbos, she would say, “He made me sit through all of it. Hours and hours of singing”.

I now face an interesting crossroads. I’m tired of pushing others to play music for me so I can sing accompaniment. I could try to live my dream through my children but will it truly quench my thirst for music? I’m also not satisfied with the music I hear today so I find myself flipping through 100 songs before I listen to anything. Therefore, it is time to restring up the guitars and learn some cords! I think you guys are tired of some classical song with acoustic but it is time to wipe off the dust from the electric. So, I ask of all of you, Please pray that I can play! Cause for me, playing music with my hands has simply never worked out all that well.

Today, if you offered me a CD from Mozitz, I would trade you many contemporary musicians in exchange. I have learned that the greatest music in the world is the ones that were composed with the thought, I want to come closer to Hashem this very moment. Today, many artists play for the sound itself, rather then trying to just let the sound lead them (closer to Hashem). I find this myself. Many times after I finish singing on Torah Video, I turn off the camera and then start singing totally for my neshamah not worrying about hitting or missing a note. This truly is the music that should be on the videos and not the ones that are song to please the ear instead of the soul.

On a positive note, the home sound studio is setup. Shure and Audio Technica Recording mics. Professional Sound car, Amp (could use a 2 tube amp), and my Bose speakers I reclaimed from my wife (put this in your marriage contract, sound system stays in the mans office). Now I pray for available time!


  1. I’m making my Aliyah on December 27th. I will be happy to share what I know about playing the guitar once I arrive. If you have access to a guitar now, I’d also be happy to jot down a few chords for you to chew on.

    Comment by Jimmy — October 8, 2007 @ 4:49 am

  2. thats my english birthday, lol.

    I am planning to teach you how to play basketball when you come. How tall are you again, 6-4?

    Comment by Reb Moshe — October 10, 2007 @ 1:43 am

  3. 6’3″…still too tall for you. How much could you possibly teach me?

    We need to figure a way for us to type hebrew in this blog

    Comment by Jimmy — October 10, 2007 @ 2:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.