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Ron Cornish

MUSIC IN MY LIFE by Ron Cornish

 

 

At the age of five I was first introduced to music when my father arranged for me to have piano lessons with a little old lady across the road from where we lived in Tottenham. Then in 1935 we moved to Stanmore when I was almost eight. Unfortunately there were no music teachers in the vicinity so I had to give up playing. I never received any more formal tuition but as I grew up I did tinker from time to time, trying to play some jazz and swing numbers.

During the war, whilst at Harrow County Grammar School, I became interested in making short wave radio sets which enabled me to listen to top class American jazz bands.

When I went to university there was an opportunity to play the piano there in the lower assembly hall of Queen Mary College. That is where I met a fellow student who was very skilled at playing swing and jazz and this increased my urge to follow suit. At the same time elementary ballroom dancing lessons were available. These introduced me to the art of strict tempo. During my first vacation, I secured a temporary job with GEC Research Laboratories at Wembley and there I met Stan, who became a lifelong friend. He was interested in playing piano from music score and we used to meet at each other's homes regularly to try out some of the popular swing tunes of the day. He was addicted to a good strong bass accompaniment - something to which my father raised objections! We did live in a semi-detached house.

After university I developed my skills in dancing and with plenty of practice progressed to finding my own style of playing swing and jazz on our piano at home. I also played at my local church youth club in Stanmore.

On my marriage in 1956 my wife and I set up home in St Albans. My wife brought her piano from her parental home and I was able to carry on playing whenever I had time available. However, with home, garden, family and work responsibilities, opportunities were few.

In the late 60s whilst working at Handley Page Test House I was persuaded to help form a dance band. I took piano and others played drums, guitar, trumpet and trombone. I had to work from a miniature musical score which incorporated notation for all the band. This took a lot of getting used to. The whole experience gave me an insight into how a variety of instruments could be used to make a unified arrangement.

Then one day in the 70s during a Saturday shopping expedition to Welwyn Department Store I heard the sound of an organ being played. It came from an organ display on the store's mezzanine floor and the pleasing sound served to fill me with enthusiasm for having one of my own. I eventually purchased a small Yamaha organ.

Playing the new Yamaha organ introduced me to a wide range of sounds and stimulated a desire to continue making music over the next four or so decades. Thus began an ever absorbing musical adventure. I spent a lot of time listening to well-known professionals' renditions of tunes to my taste to help build a bank of ideas for my own arrangements. Also I remembered some of the techniques I had used in my earlier band practice. I was able to upgrade my organ (always Yamaha) at regular intervals which gave me access to more and more facilities to expand my repertoire. A light orchestral style became one of my favourites and the tunes in my playlist spanned popular pieces of the 30s to the 60s and latterly some classical-based music.

An organ recital at the Goat public house led to me becoming aware of the St Albans Organ Society and I was pleased to join as a member and to attend its monthly meetings, also held at the Goat. This society is now known as the St. Albans Keyboard and Organ Club and over the years it offered me considerable support and motivation in my music making journey. Members were always encouraged to play 'in concert' at each meeting and I was no exception. My gratitude towards the club knows no bounds.

 

I extend my good wishes to St. Albans Keyboard and Organ Club for success in the future and hope it will continue for many years to come.

 




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