BOHP_2005-05-19_AVega Chapter 5
AV: So luckily, I did play some music in the army and I got into Schillinger. He had written a book, Collidaphone [?]. So when I get discharged in ‘46, I looked up Larry Berk, he was down the street here on Mass Avenue. Larry Berk and Harry Smith, the piano teacher. I told Larry I wanted to get into more of Schillinger and they had the two big Schillinger books, they were about a few inches thick. So I studied with Larry for quite awhile 'till we finished book one. We got into the second book and they had different teachers come and they'd get sidetracked, I don't think anybody had gone through the book before. FB: They were faking it on the second volume. AV: Yeah, well they start saying, “Before we finish the book, we'll get into Rimsky Korsakov, he was the regular. Well, I knew that stuff from the Conservatory, I wasn't looking for that. Same way with the other students. But Larry said he was starting the Schillinger House, and he asked me to be on the original faculty with people like Lee Daniels, vocal, and also Joe Viola. FB: And his brother Tony. AV: And then Tony came later I think. So that was on Newbury Street, the same block, on Commonwealth Avenue with the Phil Santman School. FB: What's that around Exeter or Fairfield? AV: Yeah right, I think it's Fairfield. Couple of blocks before Mass Ave. So Larry Berk, as I say, I was teaching then. Things get a little slow, they started telling the teachers they had to be exclusive with Schillinger House. He didn't bother me for a couple of years, because I'd known him from way back. Some of the guys, they had to give up... Finally, a couple of years later, he said, “Al, you got to be the same as the other guys, you got to give up one of your own people.” You know they were worried about people not coming to school. FB: What was Larry like as a teacher? AV: He was very meticulous, you know, he was a brain. At that time he was my link to the Schillinger thing, which is mathematical, like I said, two big books that are a few inches thick. By this time I had my own gigs and I was coaching baseball and little league and later on Babe Ruth League. So I wanted to be my own boss, I figured that was more secure than, when things get tight, I mean naturally the (inaudible) is going to come before the talent. FB: Did you have any notable students while you were on the faculty at Schillinger House? AV: Yeah a lot of pretty good ones. Lot of times some of the people wouldn't get a, they couldn't practice, they'd come in I'd give them solfege or something like that so they could get something for their money.