My Father’s Career as a Musician


A message from someone who read a post on this blog, asking about my father’s career as a musician, prompted me to respond as follows:

— Roger W. Smith

   September 2016



re my father (Alan W. Smith):

Thanks for asking! To respond to your queries:

My father was a pianist.

He also played accordion occasionally.

Plus, he was a church organist and choir director.

And a piano teacher.

He had a music degree from Harvard.

He was not famous.

He started working professionally in his teens while still in school.

He did all kinds of gigs — everything from musicals and ice skating shows to bar mitzvahs.

He played piano for years as a regular at a restaurant on Cape Cod. People loved him. He loved to meet people and socialize. Knew every tune.

He loved his work. He would frequently say to me, “I never worked a day in my life.”




In response to further queries from the same individual, I have added a little bit more about my father’s musical career:

I was always proud to be able to say that my father was a musician. He didn’t have the same type of job as most of my friends’ fathers did. He hated the thought of a 9 to 5 job.

My father performed with a few famous people, once or twice. I believe he made a demo record with Dinah Shore. And, he was proud to say that he performed once with a backup band behind Cab Calloway.

He hardly ever talked about it, but he played the trombone in high school. Early in his career – when he was still quite young – he performed with Harry Marshard and his Orchestra in Boston. It was the Big Band Era (1930’s and 40’s). He may have played some trombone then.

He worked with guys from all walks of life and educational levels, ranging from cultured and highly educated (Ph.D. in one case; a bass player who used to accompany him) to crude, uneducated guys who liked to swap dirty jokes. Many of his fellow musicians moonlighted  as musicians while pursuing careers such as dentistry and academics. He learned from this how to get along with people from all walks of life and from various educational and cultural backgrounds.

My father was in the Army during World War II. I don’t think his role was as a musician — in fact, I’m certain it was not. He was proud of his military service. (He did not see combat.)

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