My story is fairly simple – music has been an enormous part of my life for as long as I can remember.
When I was younger, it was a solitary pastime, as I sat on the bench in our living room. Living in a small town (pop. 406), I didn’t have piano lessons. My mother knew how to play, and taught me to read music. She had good music in the house……a lot of classics, and some hymnals. As I spent hours (my choice) at the piano, I was learning good voice leading and harmonic structures, particularly from reading through hymns, as they were so direct and straight forward. I was just doing what I wanted to do for fun, not realizing the value of it.
We moved to a larger town 40 miles away when I was 10, and then I did have piano lessons. My teacher was classically trained – had graduated from college as a music major – but could also play by ear. She never taught me anything about that, but I learned by watching her play. She was masterful at the old style stride bass. I wanted to play songs I heard on the radio, and figuring out those melodies by ear was the first step. Next, playing scale tone triads up and down the keys til it sounded right for the accompanying chord seemed to be what I should do. (The nearest music store was 90 miles away, so luckily I was not able to just go buy the music.)