Everything changed for me, when my father booked music lessons for me on the piano accordion. He bought a small accordion and I started my lessons when I was 13 years old. The lesson lasted 30 minutes and my regular appointment was on a Thursday morning at 8 am.
I couldn’t wait until I got home from school to practice my accordion, I would practice for about 2 to 3 hours every day. The first effect from all this practice was to keep me off the street. I didn’t tell anyone at school about my accordion, because it just wasn’t the in! thing. The accordion, in 1965, was associated with the White Heather Club on TV, which was very popular with adult’s.
I bought an electric guitar from a school pal and worked out where all the notes were by comparison to the keys on the accordion, from there I could work out what the chords were. With all the practice I was growing in confidence about my ability to play music. Soon it was Hogmanay (new years eve) and I was in demand at family parties, my Mum & Dad were so proud of me, but I couldn’t stop them, my Dad was like a roadie he made sure that I had everything I needed. I would set up my gear in a corner and I would play the accordion all afternoon until it was time to get something to eat. When everyone had a few drams, it was time for the sing song, so I brought out my guitar and they would all say the same thing “just follow me Ronald” This was so difficult to do, I didn‘t know the songs and I couldn’t find the chords most of the time, but gradually I got to know all the songs, and did get better at it, but never really enjoyed playing that way, I preferred being in control. The experience did help me, because I learned to play the guitar this way from records, but they were songs that I liked, which made a huge difference.
By the time I was 14 approaching 15, I became very confident about my ability as a musician, and a neighbour approached my mother and asked her if I would play at the community centre across the road, for the Woman’s Guild annual meeting, and I was to get paid. My dad had bought me a bigger accordion, I also had a small amplifier, guitar and microphone. I played some Scottish dance music on the accordion and would change it around by playing the guitar and singing some hit songs of the day.
I was just happy to get paid, now I was a pro, and nothing was going to stop me now. What I didn’t know at the time was, that most of the woman at the event had children who went to my school. Overnight I had suddenly become very popular, and so it was until I left school. I’ve changed direction in my music of choice, a lot, but that ability to learn and adapt has stayed with me, it’s fed the family, and paid the bills.
I’m still going strong because the music has saved me over and over again, it’s a wonderful gift, and I still get excited about the next project.
I don’t have many photos when I was that age, but I managed to find the photo included, I think I was 19 in this picture.
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