By Bill Derby, Publisher
It didn’t take long for us to realize we couldn’t play a lick of Sunday’s.
Mrs. Morefield, our sixth grade music teacher, tried her best to introduce us to a pre-band instrument notoriously known as the “Melody Flute.” We were in Mimi Rose’s homeroom class at North Side Elementary School, my favorite teacher.
Mom and dad forked over $1.50 for the c-note, six-hole metal instrument that looked very much like a real flute. It featured a metal mouthpiece with a cork stuffed into the opposite end. Left-handers didn’t have a chance. My flute may still be buried somewhere in the attic.
Mrs. Morefield was an excellent teacher, enthusiastic and very patient. Can you imagine trying to teach thirty 12-year-olds music scales on an instrument that can very easily squeak?
The girls were eager to learn. The boys, on the other hand, could care less about blowing into a foreign metal object.
Played correctly, the Melody Flute could present some very basic tunes fairly well like, “The Bunny Hop Song,” “Three Blind Mice,” “London Bridge,” “Hickory, Dickory Dock,” and everyone’s favorite, “Old MacDonald.”
The boys were into other music by that age including songs by Elvis or the Everly Brothers.
During music class the better players, the girls, moved towards the front of the room. The boys were placed in the back of the room.
Quickly, the boys noticed that if you blew through the mouthpiece with more than the recommended pressure, a resounding screech, not unlike scratching your fingers across the blackboard, would emerge. On more than one occasion this method was performed on purpose. Our group included Tommy Thomas, Tony Martin, Chuck Gordon and Carl Young.
Mrs. Morefield often stopped the song in mid-chorus asking us to please not do that anymore.
In unison we responded, “Yes, Mrs. Morefield.”
It was near impossible not to bend over laughing.
One strange kid could actually play a note or two by blowing his flute through his nose, but very carefully. He became somewhat of a class celebrity. He’s a doctor today.
Mrs. Morefield actually attempted teaching us how to read music notes. The notes looked like hieroglyphics to me and still do.
Try as we might to follow her direction, the boys section preformed in sounds similar to rusty wheels turning over and over. After about the sixth lesson Mrs. Morefield’s excellent patience started to evaporate.
She didn’t put up with our squeaky responses anymore. Some less competent artists were often asked to leave the room. Botched verses reddened her face. On more and more songs she looked down shaking her head in the negative.
The day came for our school’s Melody Flute concert where all three sixth grade classes were to play a Melody Flute selection in the Key of C in the auditorium. I think even a few parents were invited for the show. The songs were supposed to be in unison, an impossible request since the other two classes were no better than we were. We tried but, as usual, when one started to squeak all started to squeak.
fter the Melody Flute concert I do know that Mrs. Morefield got sick and was not in school for a while. I suppose you could blame it on the School Board for approving our sixth grade class learning how to play the metal “Melody Flute.” I think the mouthpiece was made out of lead too.