Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beginning with the Magnus Chord Organ



Thanks to Chironomo for responding to an earlier post about the apprenticeship model. He helped me recall a very fond memory. The Christmas that I was in third grade stands out as one of the most memorable for me. Under the tree that year was a small wrapped gift, very light in weight. As was the custom among my five sibling and me, I shook that gift, but it seemed empty. When I inwrapped it, I discovered the best Christmas gift I had–or ever would—receive. There was a piece of paper with my Mom's handwriting on it. It said something like: "Jerry Galipeau will now begin piano lessons with Sister Julie Maria, SND, at St. Charles School in Woburn, Massachusetts." I had been self-taught up until that point on a little Magnus Chord Organ, (picture above) and then a Silvertone organ my parents had purchased at the Sears Surplus store in Boston. I was thrilled. This gift signaled the beginning of what would be an unimaginable journey for me as a third grader—a journey that has led me to this desk—as associate publisher—here at World Library Publications.  Those early years of piano lessons at the convent were just great. I loved practicing (and driving my sisters, who were trying to watch their soap operas, crazy—"Jerry, play softer!!!) and completing book after book of those piano courses. I will never foget playing "We Gather Together" on the ancient Hook and Hastings tracker pipe organ at St. Charles Church for the School's Thanksgiving Day Mass (church exterior pictured below). I was in fifth grade and remember to this day how thrilling that was. As the motto of St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur says, "Ah! qu'il est bon le bon Dieu!" (Oh, how good is the good God!)


Today, surrounded by a staff here at WLP (many of whom are very talented musicians), I am grateful for the gift of music, for my parents' great gift of piano lessons, for Sister Julie Maria, SND, and for the gift that music has been in my own life. Feel free to share your own stories by hitting the comments button below. "Anonymous" comments are most welcome. 

7 comments:

Charles in CenCA said...

Wow, Dr. Jerry, what a moment of reverie!
The old Magnus my parents had in the late 50's was my first venture into the wonders of musical exploration as well.
And we're all still at it! Soli Deo gloria.

Maureen said...

I had almost forgotten that little wonder! I started playing one of those when I began lessons in the 1st grade at St. Francis of Assisi. I gave up the keyboard for a guitar 8 years later (and still regret not keeping up with it). The instruments changed, but the love of music has remained. Thanks for the nostalgia. Truly, we have been blessed!

Linda said...

And God bless you, Jerry, for passing the gift of lessons and loving music on to Chrissie. You helped shape her into the wonderful woman she is today and we are forever grateful.

Linda

Alan Hommerding said...

At our house we had a Thomas Color-Glo organ (gray keys = C chord; green keys = F chord; red keys = G chord). We honestly were too poor for lessons for both my sister and me, so I just taught myself what she was learning, about the time I was 8 yrs. old. A few years later our parish organist (I was in her boy choir) asked to hear me play something. She offered to give me lessons for free in exchange for me playing one Mass on Sundays once my skills were up to it. (It was, of course, the early Mass!) Her generosity and fervor for music inspired me, and were a big impetus in me becoming a church musician. The real joy came about 30 years later when I got to call Ann Celeen Dohms from my desk at WLP to tell her we wanted to publish the beautiful duet setting of the Hail Mary (WLP 008601) that I remembered so well singing as an 8 yr. old alto and playing as a 12 yr. old organist!

triciep said...

This is reminding me of the time during high school that an organ dealer loaned us an electric organ that had to have taken up most of our vestibule/laundry room. For some reason I can only remember playing "Midnight Cowboy" on it. Thanks for the memory tickler!

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

triciep's comments brought back another memory. I remember playing "Midnight Cowboy" on the Wurlitzer organ that was placed in front of the Wurlitzer store that opened out onto the central promenade of the Burlington Mall, in Burlington, Massachusetts. I took organ lessons there. Remember the days when you would walk through a mall and there would be a wonderkid organist playing the organ, attracting shoppers? There I was . . . playing "Midnight Cowboy," to say nothing of "Tico Tico"!

Anonymous said...

hi! i used to play the magnus chord organ and the song i LOVED playing was "One Tin Soldier" and i seem to have lost the note names and the sheet music. although i am 12 years old, i still like to play it. does anybody know where i can find the not names and sheet music?