Perspective:To Every Thing, There is a Season

Mike Lawson • • February 5, 2016

Share This:

Mike Lawson As I look back on a good thirty years plus now in the music business in one form or another, I recall a string of people without whom I may not be sitting where I am writing this to you today. The easy ones to recall, like my mom and dad, who bought me my first guitar, took me to choir and band practices, and put up with my ridiculous dream of getting out of a small town and playing music on a big stage. I can recall that my friend’s dad, Walt Hall, who taught me to tune my guitar and my first four chords, which he made me draw on a sheet of lined notebook paper: C, Am, F, and G. He said, “Here, when you can play those, come back and I’ll show you some more.” I was just turning nine years old. I can’t possibly recall the names of every choir teacher at churches, though my band and choir teachers in school are easier to remember. All of them in some way or another left an indelible mark on my life and my desire to play music.

Then there are the others whose names I didn’t know who helped me learn to play. Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method was an epiphany for me. The book was written by Morty Manus. I didn’t know if there was an Alfred or who Morty was, I just knew his name was on the cover of and inside the book I had my nose inside of in some kind of mad childhood obsession to learn to play the guitar. I never went on to the next book in the series. I had three chords, a relative minor, and a dream. I shortly thereafter figured out that most vintage, early rock and roll music was either I, IV, V played fast, or slow, straight or with a swing, and that most other ‘50s era rock was I, VIm, IV, V, played at various tempos like “At the Hop” was the same as “Silhouettes on the Shade.” Then I figured out the blues were where that whole thing originated, and the rest is history.

Life went on and a series of events led me into performing music for a living, working in audio, to eventually working in publishing. In 2009, I started consulting Alfred Music to help them develop a new line of pro audio and music technology titles, after having published hundreds with dozens of great authors at other publishing houses. I’m not going to memorialize the passing of Morty Manus here, because I didn’t get to know him like the others did who worked with him for years at Alfred. I only met him a couple of times. He has an awesome family, put together a great company, and he left it in good hands with his son Ron. But I will say without hesitation that a bit of Morty’s genius has been part of my developing being since I was a little kid, because it was his book on guitar that got me fired up as a player, and things I learned in that book have been part of my DNA ever since.

This brings me to something I often try to use this space to remind you of, your power as a music teacher. When Morty sat down to write that book 50 years ago, he couldn’t have dreamed some little kid in northwest Florida was going to immerse himself into its contents, learn to play, follow his dreams, and end up in music publishing someday, even working with his company. How could he? Life is a season, it comes and it goes. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes not so much. What we say and do and teach to empower kids who have their own musical aspirations can have a lasting impact throughout their lives, in ways we can’t possibly imagine. But, isn’t it fun to try?


The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!