Rhythmania!

It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of my most recent work entitled “Rhythmania!” Students, teachers, professional musicians and dear friends from all over the world will be delighted to know that the book they have been asking me to write is finally complete and will be available in the fall of 2014. I’m very excited about the launching of this labor of love and thrilled to tell you all about it!

Rhythmania! is a comprehensive guide for vocalists who want to learn more about rhythm and hone their skills in reading and performing rhythmic patterns and phrases. The exercises are uniquely designed with a lexicon of instru-vocal articulations that integrate the lingo of musical instruments. These expressions are commonly used  in solo a cappella improvisation, scat singing and group improvisation. Rhythmania’s phonetics include brass shakes, spills, plops, flips, bends, percussion flams, kicks, cymbal crashes, hi hat splashes and triplety swing riff embellishments formally played by the acoustic bass. Have fun practicing single, double, triple and doodle-tongue patterns used to articulate rhythmic figures and increase your groove vocabulary by exploringthe nuances of even and swing feels in the musical styles of jazz, pop, R&B, blues, funk, swunk and shuffle.  Expand your cultural horizons by examining the rhythmic ingredients that fuel Latin Bossa Nova, Samba, Baion, Mambo, Songo and Guaguanco grooves. Whatever your musical goals are, I’m sure you will enjoy immersing yourself in the wonderment of Rhythmania!

All styles of contemporary pop, jazz and world music, whether simple or complex, contain a nuclear composite of the three essential musical elements: rhythm, melody and harmony. While melody and harmony stimulate our emotional sensors, rhythm directly summons our physical impulses. Our bodies respond to rhythm precipitously, without thought or discrimination. We tap our feet, clap our hands, snap our fingers, or bob our heads when we hear and/or feel musical rhythms. But for those who perform music, crafting rhythm is a skill that requires formal study and the inclusion of an effective daily practice regimen. This applies, of course, to both instrumentalists and vocalists.

While instrumentalists enjoy the luxury of being able to articulate music using external triggers such as sticks, bows, slides, valves, and keys, a singer, who may or may not play a musical instrument, will typically lean toward learning by rote because it doesn’t require tedious muscle memory training. This is not necessarily an easier or better approach, however, as it requires notably good intuition and the innate ability to spontaneously transform internalized musical concepts into coherent artistic creations. Many singers are able to do this reasonably well with little or no training. But many years of vocal coaching have revealed to me that rhythm is often considered the singer’s “Achilles’ heel.”

How can vocalists improve their rhythm skills? One way is to listen to variety of music and assimilate the rhythmic components by ear, focusing on patterns, grooves and stylistic interpretations. But learning how to feel rhythm raises the bar to a higher and more practical level. As a former instrumentalist, practicing muscle memory exercises made a huge impact on my rhythmic expertise because of the physicality and repetition. Being a talented, intuitive and proficient drummer added a lot to the mix but I also reaped comparable rhythmic rewards from playing trumpet and flute preparatory exercises, excerpts and etudes on a daily basis.

Consider the voice as a viable musical instrument. It’s readily accessible, expressive and convenient so why not use it to practice rhythms? Your mouth is already a seasoned embouchure for triggering a variety of sounds and shaping different vowels. You can explore a potpourri of available timbres and tonal colors using your vocal cords. Your head and chest provide natural chambers for sound resonance. All you need is a suitable vocabulary to articulate your rhythmic ideas!

Rhythmania!  is specifically designed to help singers connect with rhythm more intimately and incorporate rhythmic diversity in their vocal performances. Each example offers a specially prepared vocabulary of instru-vocal articulations that are comprehensive, challenging and fun to learn! Rhythmania!  is a perfect guide for practicing rhythmic patterns using an instrumental approach. Learn all about drum grooves, bass articulations and the language of big band brass while you hone a variety of relevant skills including lyrical phrasing, scat singing, articulating vocalese, “locking in” with rhythm section grooves, collating with other singers or players, doubling or harmonizing other parts in a studio or live session and any other activity requiring rhythmic precision.

Remember that daily practice is essential for musicians in training and having a solid rhythmic vocabulary is not only crucial but a delightful addition to your musical palette. So enjoy practicing these cool exercises and I’m sure that in no time, you will begin to experience the effects of… Rhythmania!  Release date: October 15.  On sale now for $25 (reg $35)

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My new book is here!

Recipes for Soloing Vol 1 Book CoverRecipes For Soloing Over Jazz Standards is the title of my newest publication. This book is a unique, challenging, and fun way to learn how to improvise over the chord progressions. In Volume 1,  I have selected ten well-known standard songs selected from the Great American Songbook. Recipes is a harmonic approach to improvisation but different from traditional pedagogies typically used in academia. It’s about harmonic analysis and solo development strategies with a more contemporary, stress-less approach that doesn’t necessarily require previous musical training or reading skills. In fact, all the exercises in Recipes can be learned entirely by ear! Additionally, vocalists interested in improving their reading skills and knowledge about chords and scales will find this book a very palatable introduction to the world of visual notation and a few “nuts & bolts” about theory and harmony. Recipes is a culmination of 3 decades of teaching musicians how to improvise and I consider it my best and most comprehensive work to date. I began teaching scat singing in 1983 at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It quickly became apparent to me that rhythm was the singer’s Achilles’ Heel. Easy fix! I had a full repertoire of rhythmic figures to share from many years of experience as a professional studio and live drummer. Since I was teaching a multicultural pool of students from all over the world, the popular question from vocal improvisers at that time was, “What syllables should I use?” To answer this, I decided to convert standard exercises from various percussion books to scat phrases, fully loaded with my own syllable applications and stylistic accents. Eventually I began to publish books that offered my students a potpourri of rhythmic patterns to practice and they certainly prospered! But another relevant and more challenging inquiry persisted: “When I improvise, how do I choose the right notes?” While the answer to this lies within a myriad of available music books on jazz theory and harmony, most methodologies, in my opinion, remain very labor-intensive. I prefer teaching these concepts in a musical context with audio support. Many musicians learn more easily by listening and with current technology, rote teaching is becoming easier and more acceptable, even at the university level. Recipes is a user-friendly learning tool for musicians that have technical training, intuition or both. There is another important reason why learning-by-ear is more effective, even preferable, especially for singers. The rote approach has prevailed for many reasons but mostly because vocalists are not forced to deal with the arduous task of learning how to produce music externally via metal, plastic or cane mouthpieces. They don’t need to train their fingers to execute notes and chords in 12 different keys, articulate music by dragging horsehairs across cat-gut strings (what a concept!) or beat drums with rhythmic precision by flailing synthetic strikers with their extremities. The world of embouchures, keys, valves, sticks, mallets, brushes, bows & frets is quite different from the physical immediacy of the human voice. The voice as a musical instrument is a unique, more corporeal and mostly intuitive experience. Everyone is born with an inherent vocal tone quality and timbre. Since vocal cords do not come with any external controllers, producing tone and executing rudimentary scales, arpeggios, playing intervals and chords, etc. is an internal process requiring much less associative muscle-memory trigger-training (say that 5 times real fast!) But for all musicians, learning how to improvise requires both a seasoned “ear” and a diverse palette of pedagogical musicianship skills that requires hours of dedicated training and practice. Vocalists who study with me know this and come to my workshops wide-eyed & bushy-tailed, wanting to learn the “nuts & bolts” of what many of them can already do intuitively. Because most of my students are more computer literate than me, I decided to use the recording studio format as a convenient learning platform.  Having control over individual tracks and being able to alter tempos and pulse feels allow each student to learn at his/her own pace. Each song is presented with a 7-stave score that delineates important melodic lines, or “ingredients,” that represent the harmonic structure of the song in several important and interesting ways. Roots of chords, for example, are important to hear as primary reference tones when improvising music. Carefully constructed bass lines connect the fundamental pitches (or bottom of each chord) sequentially using notes derived from related scales. The bass line is the foundation of any harmonic chord progression. So, we begin by learning what the root of each chord sounds like and then how to connect them harmonically with a vocal bass line weave. Above the bass line, within each chord structure, there are important pitches that give each chord a unique color. The 3rd of a chord, for example, will indicate whether it is major or minor and both of these harmonic colors have distinctive vibrations when played simultaneously with the root and/or other relative chord tones. When we add a 7th above the root, we get an additional color that distinguishes one chord type from another in a different way. Played sequentially, the roots and primary color tones (aka “guide tones”) provide the “meat and potatoes” of each chord. In fact, you can improvise solos using only these three reference pitches throughout an entire song. Jazz harmony offers additional spices that can contribute more flavors to an improvised solo. There are certain notes available above the root, third and seventh, for example, that give chords even more zest! Commonly called “tensions” or “extensions,” these colorful pitches can sound absolutely magical! When I began writing RecipesI decided to create melodies using almost exclusively chord tensions as an experiment. I quickly discovered that a carefully constructed sequence of these color tones produces an independent solo-like line, so I added one to each song for the purpose of studying harmonic hues as melodies. As I remember, the most labor-intensive portion of my former daily practice regimen on trumpet & flute included the execution of numerous scales and arpeggios.  On drums it was endless hours of articulating rudimentary rhythm patterns including rolls, paradiddles, flams and things called “ratamacues.” Pretty tedious stuff! But for melodic instruments like the voice, scales and arpeggios are essential learning tools for both developing technique and building a vocabulary of phrases that will successfully navigate harmonic chord progressions. The fundamental structures of scales and arpeggios were intended to be calisthenic round-trip note sequences traditionally practiced by starting from and returning to the same pitch via steps or intervallic leaps. Instead of adopting this conservative and rather tedious practice regimen, however, I decided to write less rigid, more flowing lines that remain equally solvent with the song’s harmony. In Recipes, all the scale, arpeggio and extension solo lines can be practiced as independent etudes by simply muting the other tracks. Etudes are short compositions that integrate a variety of technical skills but in a musically aesthetic way. As a student, I learned a lot about melodic phrasing by practicing hundreds of etudes written for all the instruments I enjoyed playing. The scales and arpeggios in Recipes are disguised as etudes to make them more enjoyable to learn and to introduce the concept of line contour (ascending and descending sequences). I chose not to identify each but rather organize them in aesthetic musical sequences without attaching any labels. Last but not least, the phrase solos in Recipes demonstrate a cohesive application of roots, color tones, extensions and scale/ arpeggio approaches in a prescribed solo, brimming with musical punctuation I like to call “phraseology.” These solos can be learned entirely by ear and those who are interested can review a comprehensive analysis of the compositional devices I used to create them, including line contour, phrase modulation, echo-motifs, rhythmic displacement, anticipations, theme quotation, contrary motion, and lots of other cool stuff like cliché lines, modes and upper structure triads. But these “nuts & bolts” are purely optional! There’s a lot of pith in Recipes and musicians can dig in as far as they want to or simply listen to the tracks repeatedly, or both! I included a practice regimen for each song dedicated to those who want to hone particular musicianship skills but need some organizational guidance. I would like to close by saying how much I enjoyed writing Recipes and hope my students and adjunct readers appreciate this treatise and benefit from the tidbits of musical wisdom I have duly imparted from within.

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#2 The High School Years

Empire State Music Camp Waiter’s Bunk (Stalag 16), circa 1968.

empire state copy

2. The High School Years

Summers were spent in the Catskill Mountains at the shabby but awesome Empire State Music Camp, tucked away in a tiny town called Hurleyville in upstate New York. During the early “Borsht Belt” years, this location was a frequented hotel/casino called “Kramer’s on Luzon Lake,” that often featured notorious comedians like Buddy Hackett and Lenny Bruce. I spent five summers there and loved it so much I began packing the family trunk good for the whole copyand my father’s army duffle bag in January of each year. I can only describe this place as a musician’s “heaven on earth.” The first half of each day was total immersion in music activities. E.S.M.C. offered choir, concert band, jazz band, chamber orchestra, an occasional brass or woodwind quintet and there were always blocks of time reserved throughout the day for practicing your instrument. The campgrounds were speckled with little do-it-yourself piano sheds and there was a main “house” where concerts took place nightly. Afternoon activities included the usual menu of Bb camp sporting events but since it was primarily a music camp run by a fervent commandant, we were gifted with unlimited “get-out-of-sports-free” cards that were good for the entire summer!

Nights at E.S.M.C. were reserved for concerts, jam sessions, rehearsals or, in my case, getting into hot water-actually cold water. In addition to being a single-minded musician on a crusade, I soon became an inventor of sorts at E.S.M.C. with a proclivity for designing water balloon traps that I furtively installed in the boy’s bunk bathrooms. But no matter how plausible my designs appeared on paper, I got drenched every attempt at rigging those aqueous contraptions: rigging those copy

I think I fell in love just about every summer-yes, in that way, of course, but also with the idea of playing musical instruments in addition to the trumpet. During my first summer at E.S.M.C. we had a terrific drummer in the stage band that could really play! I was so impressed with this 15 year-old that when I returned home after camp ended, I immediately asked my father for a drum set to fool around with. Dad was a trap-set veteran himself and a real Gene Krupa i think i fell in lovefan as a kid so it was an easy sell. We purchased a classic champagne sparkle Slingerland kit and it t took me only a few months to transform what I had heard Richie play into my own legerdemain. The following July I returned to E.S.M.C. with trumpet in hand but also a pair of Jake Hanna jazz drumsticks tucked away in my trunk. When I arrived I was delighted to learn that the stage band needed a drummer that particular summer. I already knew all the charts so it was a no-brainer to let me to take the drummer’s throne. By my third summer, pop/rock music was in an all-time uproar (much to my dismay) that began to draw “plebian” guitar players and drummers to my secret summer sanctum. A few decent jazzers arrived, however, so I reluctantly returned to my desperate world of “hamburger-chops” and “mouthpiece-madness” (playing drums in comparison was effortless).

despite my innate copyThat fall, my family moved to New York City where I enrolled in the High School of Performing Arts and was placed solo chair of the trumpet section in the first level concert band (there were 4 levels). I studied ear training 5 days a week and enjoyed playing in a brass quintet every morning. Before band I would sneak into the harp chamber and do my impression of Arthur Marx.

But despite my innate talent and all the arduous training offered there, for me, the peer pressure was so overwhelming that I almost collapsed during my performance of the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto. In retrospect, I learned a lot from that awful experience but to this day I still flinch every time I hear “the Haydn.”

trumpet debacleWhile the trumpet debacle continued, my thirst for playing drums led me to join the Metropolitan Jazz Quartet for weekend excursions to the land of New Jersey. I also played trumpet in a rugged soul band during that time but despite a nascent interest in Lee Morgan & Freddie Hubbard, it was the Oscar Peterson Trio that stole my heart, in particular, kingpins Ed Thigpen & Ray Brown. Ed’s unwavering time and sumptuous brushwork blew me away but I always kept one ear tuned to the cohesive “triplety” bass lines played by the amazing Ray Brown.  One day at school, I bumped into a classmate who was selling his acoustic bass for $150. Without seeing or trying the merchandise I paid him the meager sum and he even delivered the bass to my apartment that night with a bow and a frayed copy of Franz Simandl’s “Method For the Double Bass.” I quickly learned first position fingerings and how to read bass clef more fluently. I had enough Ray Brown & Ron Carter in me to plunk along with some “Music Minus One” recordings my mom had from her voice lessons and within a few months, I was good enough to join a rehearsal big band just a few blocks away on West End Avenue.

when i returned toWhen I returned to my haven the following summer, as fate would have it, there was a need for a double bass player in the counselor’s string quartet. Expecting to play trumpet and/or drums that year, I didn’t think of bringing my newly acquired toy. Fortunately the music director was able to procure an aluminum double bass and a cello bow from somewhere in the bowels of Hurleyville. When the cellist handed me the music, I almost flipped when I saw the title of the piece they wanted to perform at the final camp concert: the first Allegro from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik! Amadeus probably had a good laugh over this one-for all after fervent violinist copyI know he even planned it when I fell in love with his piece as a toddler, running around the house imitating a fervent violinist. (I can’t imagine where I got that image from…)

With “bumps of the goose” and only eight weeks to learn how to simulate arco and play the notes correctly, I began a daily regimen of rigorous practice. It took me several days before I could play the first four measures in tune but the cello bow actually made it a bit easier. The concert went extremely well and I was very pleased with the work I had accomplished in such a short time. I also realized I had to start making choices as my daily practice schedule was becoming unmanageable.

the final summer copyThe final summer at E.S.M.C. was a significant turning point in my life although it wouldn’t be realized until much later. I received a full scholarship to play trumpet, bass and drums as needed in the concert band, jazz band and orchestra. I also conducted a woodwind quintet after gleefully discovering the score to Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette,” which was the sinister but very catchy theme used to underscore the Alfred Hitchcock Hour on TV. But my musical life was destined for yet another path that summer as the drama folks scheduled Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta, “The Mikado,” for the camp’s final extravaganza. Inducted against my will, I was appropriately chosen to play the part of Pooh Bah who was Lord High Everything in the fantasyland of Titipu. While this role was a perfect fit for my teenage arrogance and vitriol, I had some reservations about singing, especially when coupled with acting and in a lead role to boot!

Bob playing the part of Pooh Bah in the E.S.M.C. rendition of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” circa 1968.

Bob playing the part of Pooh Bah in the E.S.M.C. rendition of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” circa 1968.

[please!] Given a choice, I would have naturally migrated to the “pit” where I could share my expertise with the orchestra and remain invisible, allowing the gaggle of hapless actors to fend for themselves on stage. Now the pressure was really on! I had to add singing, dancing and acting to my repertoire of musical tricks and that meant earning my scholarship by playing all day and at night memorizing lines, cues, choreography and Gilbert & Sullivan’s wonderful ditties that were lyrical but rather complicated. The show was a success and little did I know that my role in it was the shape of things to come!

By my senior year of Performing Arts I had managed to maintain first chair trumpet status when I was recruited to the senior orchestra, concert band and even all-city band despite my having become an emotional basket case. In retrospect, I suppose I should have requested a demotion but instead exempted myself from playing some great trumpet solos including both on-stage and off-stage passages from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite and Copland’s Outdoor Overture. The latter was a commissioned work Aaron wrote for our school and to make matters worse for me, he decided to attend the premier performance in 1969 and, of course, the entire school population filled the hall for this special event!! Seconds before the downbeat I completely froze, turned to the guy who should have sat first chair and quietly offered him the chance he deserved to shine (and save my ass!). He accepted my offer in a heartbeat and played it beautifully while I sank into my chair. The conductor never said anything to me about what happened. Looking back, though, I know I did the right thing because this young man was a better player than me and everyone knew it. But for some strange reason his talent and ability remained invisible to the teachers who determined the pecking order of each section in all ten of the bands and orchestras.  I will never understand why there were no auditions or “chair challenges” possible at Performing Arts. To this day, I still garrot myself with a trumpet leadpipe snake daily for blowing that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On the other hand, there were at least 40 other trumpet players who never even had the opportunity. Completely

Handy garrote for aimless ex-trumpet players:

Handy garrote for aimless                               ex-trumpet players

frazzled after graduation (ironically celebrated at Carnegie Hall) and a hopeless audition for the Manhattan School of Music, I sold all my instruments and fled to New Jersey where I took up residence in a $10/week dump. Swearing off music, I took a job delivering pizzas for a small mom & pop franchise called “Chicken Delight.”

One anecdote of note before I take you to the Garden State: I strongly believe in cosmic messages and there was one in particular, quite relevant to this story, which I ignored. On the way home from a trumpet lesson one afternoon in lovely uptown Manhattan, I was accosted by two lowlifes. One surprised me from behind and held a knife to my gut while his partner in crime executed a frontal assault by sharing the handle of the case that swaddled my horn. After a brief tug-o-war, the back up dude calmly said in my ear, “You don’t want that horn now, do-you-boy?”  Trained for this sort-tiny mouthpieces copyof (sordid) thing, he increased the knife pressure and since I didn’t really want a second navel, I had no choice but to donate my Vincent Bach Stradivarius (not a Mt. Vernon, thank de lawd) with the first and third valve triggers to a bad cause. But that blade-wielding messenger was absolutely correct! I’m also glad I was smart enough not to resist otherwise I probably would have been dissected into tiny mouthpieces…

Bob with cohorts Al and Jill in the E.S.M.C. Rock Band Parody, circa 1967.

Bob with cohorts Al and Jill in the E.S.M.C. Rock Band Parody, circa 1967.

 

With years of extensive coaching on trumpet, bass, drums and flute behind me, I entered the vocal arena serendipitously in 1978 as a “scat” singer extraordinaire. In retrospect, my interest in singing made perfect sense considering all the academic and professional performing experience I had playing in classical, jazz and contemporary music ensembles. The combination of listening to recordings and live performance opportunities provided me with a keen ear and diverse palette of stylistic colors to make music with. My desire to “play” the voice like a musical instrument was a natural and significant transition in my musical career!

My primary interest has always been education. I began to adapt the diverse articulations I learned playing brass, woodwind, string and percussion instruments using corresponding “scat” syllables.

This has been done for decades in all idioms, particularly Jazz.  Let us not forget, however, the Swingle Singers, a group that articulated the works of Bach back in the 1960’s to create vocal interpretations of orchestral and chamber music.

popeyeSo when people ask me to reveal my musical influences, I always cite the classical composers before mentioning the great jazz musicians I listened to. But I will forever credit Popeye the Sailor for getting my attention with his notorious scat singing!

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Influences #1

This is a work in progress but I’m having fun doing it! It answers the often asked question, “What are my influences” but for me that’s a very deep question with a very long answer.

My “instru-vocal” approach to improvisation stems from a long history of playing musical instruments since I was a child. The “music bug” first bit me when I heard Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” which I found among my parent’s small but tasteful collection of “high fidelity” vinyl disc recordings. Having discovered gold, I began to spend most of my time digesting the jazz and classical music I uncovered from the shelves, with an occasional departure to Broadway musicals and a very funny album by the Jewish comedian/singer who was popular at that time, Mickey Katz. I can still remember running around the house singing Frederick Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night,” shadow boxing to Tchaikovsky’s “Cappriccio Italien” and imitating Katz’s Yiddishkeit rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1955 hit single,“16 Tons” (of latkes). 🙂

When I wasn’t hanging out in the library I was glued to our black-n-white television set watching Terrytoons featuring Farmer Alfalfa (aka Farmer Gray) with a supporting cast of cell animated cats, dogs, mice and a collection of very clever and mischievous farm animals. These “silent” cartoons were far from silent! Instead of audible dialogue, Terry underscored the action with a steady stream of the most fantastic repertoire of classical music imaginable! To this day, when I hear certain memorable works by classical composers on the radio, I get “bumps of the goose” (as they say in Europe) and also an instant flash of little mice ice-skating across Farmer Gray’s baldhead while he slept! 🙂

Growing up on Lon-Giland was a pretty good time as my town junior high school had a decent band and orchestra that rehearsed and performed regularly. In 8th grade, my interest in jazz music happened to coincide with a few other jazz aficionados who were wandering around campus looking to play some music so we formed a small, invisible jazz elite coalition consisting of two trumpets, bass, drums and piano. We got our beloved Biology teacher, Mr. Campbell,* to facilitate. He was the only African American teacher at the school; a man who understood the importance of personal vision/effort, who liked young people and loved jazz music. We rehearsed on occasion, studied privately with the local music teachers who were excellent and became well-respected musicians among our peers-a big deal in junior high school! But around 1965 we were drowned out by Beatlemania and forced to take refuge underground to covet the forbidden fruits of Coltrane, Miles and Dizzy, while the earth rocked above us. Succumbing to peer pressure, I decided to reclaim my status by making myself visible as “the cool jazz drummer who could play rock.” To further my charming bravado I made it known that my rendition of the drum solo from the Surfaris’ hit beach surf-song, “Wipe Out,” was brilliantly executed with paradiddles instead of the single stroke pounding my plebian peers could barely manage. 

During that time, the only popular group playing quasi-jazz music was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Herb even played a few truncated trumpet solos on their hit song, “A Taste of Honey,” plus the song modulated and had a tag/Ellington-ish ending. I think it was the album covers, though, that convinced me to stay with the trumpet a bit longer.

successinlife copy

* Mr. Campbell was quite a character and I adored him! He announced exams using a feigned sinister tone that made us shiver to the bone! “We’re havin’ a little partay next Monday morning…” he would growl…..you’re only excuse for not taking this exam is…death…” And we always wet our pants as that last word left his lips…one more thing about Mr. Alphonse Campbell-he was a man of his word. His made two predictions that both became true. During one particularly disruptive class he silenced and scolded us, reiterating his favorite personal adage while pointing to a sign which read: “Success in Life Requires Labor: Think!” Mr. Campbell’s legendary proverb was plastered on the wall of his room in huge crepe paper letters above the chalk-board.  Then he pointed at me and said, “take this young man, Bob Stoloff [please].  He’s going to be great some day because he works hard!” (this happened right after the school talent show in which I hurled a flamboyant drum solo at my peers). Well, I did work my butt off. Mr. Campbell’s other memorable promise was made every time he discovered a gum-chewing victim in class. (There was no gum or beards allowed in those days and I got busted for both!) Violators were sent to the unholy gum-wattle cauldron located in the front of the room where Mr. Cambell usually perched on his pedestal.  “We’re gonna have a little science experiment at the end of the semester… (his tone getting sinister)… I’m going to boil all the gum I collect from you and those who made donations will chew dividends on the last day of class. Again pee would hit the floor as Mr. Campbell eyed us one by one like a thirsty vampire glaring at a collection of little blood-filled captives. Bets were made all year on the sincerity of Mr. Campbell’s threat. Sure enough, during the last class, he silently dumped the amalgam of chewed gum-wads into a flask (all the time giving us his evil eye), placed it on a Bunsen Burner and I swear he cooked those viscous suckers, stirring occasionally, until they merged into one huge malleable gum-globule! It looked like a softball-sized pile of multi-colored silly putty and we shrank in horror as he hoisted it from the beaker with tongs. “And now for the dividends” he said triumphantly as he slowly waded through a lake of freshly made pee! But that’s as far as Mr. Campbell went…Needless to say, I’ll never forget my 8th grade science teacher. Neither will the custodians who worked at Carrie Palmer Weber Junior High School in 1965 who were responsible for keeping the floor of the science room clean and dry.

My worst nightmare in 8th grade:

My second worst nightmare in 8th grade:

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