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Another one of my tricks for learning music, especially when teaching myself instrumentals, i.e. Memphis by Lonnie Mack, was to take the old RCA Victrola and slow-down the speed at which the record played from 45 to 33 1/3 rpm. Then I would de-tune the guitar to match the sluggish tone of the slow-playing 45. I could then figure out the song at that speed. Once I felt sufficiently confident, I would simply play the 45 up to speed and re-tune my guitar in order to finish learning the song. This was my method for learning many instrumentals.

Starting to feel at least somewhat accomplished as a musician, yet still in the beginning stages, I discovered that for every bit of success, you do have to pay a price. In my case, that price was being awakened at 2:00 a.m. by my parents. Mom and dad would arrive home from the country club with some of their friends, and the party would move from the club house to our house. Then my mother would say, “Now, Reed, play for the nice people.”

I made a friend in Mequon, Tom Marchese. He had a go cart, so I got a go cart. We used to race up and down the long gravel path that led to my house. Although we were friends, we were very different. Eventually our lives took very different paths. Tom didn’t have much passion for school and chose to walk on the wild side. I, on the other hand, became one of what was then known around here as a collegiate. A few years later, Tom would die tragically at the age of 17.

At the time, I found myself in an awkward stage of shyness as I was entering into the sixth grade. At school, once again I had to make a whole new set of friends; and unlike the urban Shorewood crowd, I found myself adjusting back among the country crowd. My sixth grade teacher at Rangeline School had a habit of assigning lengthy homework assignments to be completed during class time and, occasionally, she would fall asleep. The rumor goes that she had met a new boyfriend and was engaged in some late night extracurricular activities. One day, the class was startled when the book that she used to hide behind while taking a little snooze fell down. She let out a snort, woke up, and said, “Children, keep doing your homework.” Yes, we did a lot of reading and paperwork while she napped. I found that my favorite class of all was music. For one thing, we actually got to leave the classroom. The music area was downstairs. Sometimes we made musical instruments. My favorite project was making a drum out of a cylindrical Quaker Oats box. That year was non-eventful, except for one exciting moment when, at Christmas time, I offered the class its own Christmas tree. Also, during the sixth grade, I started to take guitar lessons. Fred Winter was my teacher on my first electric guitar. I remember having to learn how to play La Spagnola.

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