Johnny Mercer was my father's best friend and became mine as well. And Harold Arlen, whom I would call Uncle Harry, and Harry Warren: those were ones who I really became close to.
So many schools have cut the music classes out of their curriculum. We're trying to fill that gap by teaching the teachers how to educate the kids about their musical heritage.
I had years of experience that I still needed to accumulate and go through.
The musicians recommend that I sing a sing the way it is written the first time and then start to look for other notes that aren't in the melody.
The way I teach people to sing... I have them talk the lyric out until it sounds like something they really believe, like an actor with a monologue.
Rosemary was a little nervous about going onstage, but she went on with us. I saw her at a party, and a couple of months later they called me about doing the act.
That's really what was wonderful for me growing up, since I got to know so many of the songwriters who liked me and thought I had talent. They would then tell me how to read a lyric and sing a song, and challenge me to try and find a different end to a song.
We teach young kids from 8 to 14 or 15 about their musical heritage through great songs written by American songwriters. We don't do too many modern composers, although we include songs from Billy Joel and other writers like him.
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