As a student at The New England Conservatory duting the 60s there were a few simple stops on any given day. There were classes at the NEC, most specifically orchestra,(was anything more important?) and the other drudgery better known as History and of course Theory and Music Lit, which I liked because I got to play in them, demonstrating repertoire we were learning. I had Chamber Music with Fernand Gillet, the elderly principal Oboe of the Boston Symphony who boasted receiving pensions both from the BSO and the Lamureaux Orchestra in Paris. He was the greatest teacher, could spot any problem within miliseconds and give the solution in less time than that. In 1958 or so he said to me, “I like zat stacatto”, a comment I have never forgotten ever. ( I never asked him what it was he liked, but I think it was the fact that I did not stop the air after every articulated note.)
NEC was like a rabbit warren in those days. It was full of all kinds of nooks and crannies where all kinds of things went on.
The organ rooms all had mirrors in them so one could see anything that was happenning inside from out in the hall which most emphatically , kept the place from being a carnal zoo.
“I’ll meet you under Beethoven” the huge statue in the hallway and from there we would go for coffee or to listen to someone in Jordan Hall, or to rehearse or to class. I remember only being happy: days were filled with laughter.
As a clarinetist I spent hours learning all the chamber music parts I could find and orchestra studies. The corridors sounded like every clarinet part ever written all at once. And yes, we would meet to listen to music in the record library. They should have had mirrors there as well.
On Friday afternoon, I would go to Rayburn Music on Huntington Avenue to get reeds for my lesson which was Saturday Morning.
Van Dorens came in boxes of 25 and cost 3.75 a box.
I would ask Mrs S. the tny old lady for 5 boxes , which would usually get me one or two that I could play for Mazzeo the next morning, after five or six hours of trying them that night.
Mrs. S was the wife of Mr S., better know as the “Bolero” drummer of the Boston Symphony as he had been the snare drummer on the famous recording.
He was also a chemist by training and designed and manufactured “Revelation” Valve Oil in the back of the store. Theye were all very nice to me, including Ray ,the son who played trumpet, but just kind of for fun, as he only played a few parades in the summer.
After Mrs. S bagged my five boxes of reeds, I would ask her . “how much? and she would always reply, “Oh. thats OK . Sherman”
Right, I never paid for reeds. not at Ray Sternburgs shop and I would hazard there were many like me who received those mini-scholarships. You know, it was a different time.
Once, I remember a wonderful Baritone Saxophone sound coming from the store as I walked in. It was huge and gorgeous, the player totally professional and very gifted.
It was Serge Chaloff, perhaps the best know Baritone player next to Harry Carney of our century.
Serge was bargaining with Ray for the Bari neck he was trying. I remember the final price was something like 5.00. Serge seemed strung-out at the time, little money for anything except those terrible necessities and Ray was always there to help. Serge played Baritone Sax with Woody Herman at the time in that famous section whose names scared me to even mention.
It was a nice time to be growing up and playing in Boston during those years, and I am grateful for all of the wonderful people I met as a young clarinetist.