I believe that from the time I was born until I graduated and left my folks’ house I had 4 sweet years of silence. Does that seem cruel? You must understand that our house was full of music from before we were born, so it wasn’t silence in the way most people think. There were music lessons every day, there was Frank Sinatra on the record player, there was classical music on the radio, and we didn’t watch a whole lot of TV until I was in Junior High. What was this glorious silence then? It was the absence of constant drum beats.
Teddy started beating on things– furniture, trash cans, cookware, his big sister– at a really early age. We were only about 18 months apart, so he would have been about 2 when it started. I would have been 3 1/2. (I did the math in my head…impressed?) He would beat on big things and little things, things that went clang, things that went thump. My dad did the unthinkable and got him STICKS! Then that fateful day came when one of my dad’s drum students came to our house. Ted was in 7th heaven. Sooo, Dad got him a drum. Poor Joe never had a chance.
Yes, Joe got the full effect of the drumming while he was in utero. I’m not sure, but I believe that his final years in High School were spent in “Ted’s Drumming” withdrawal. Ted was drumming with his fingers, pencils and pens anytime he was not moving. He and Dad were playing duets at the dinner table. Ted played the back seats and the arm rests and the books and toys we had on vacations. He got a drum kit and then started drumming with his FEET! Now you all have heard human beat boxes. Ted was doing that when he was in elementary school IN THE 60’S. All of us had piano lessons, so it wasn’t that we ever had a time when Ted wasn’t playing drums. There were times he was playing Bach and Beethoven and Mozart on the piano.
Things didn’t really get bad until band started. He discovered then that as a 5th grader, he could outplay everyone in junior high. Then there was band camp, and he discovered he could play faster with 1 stick than most of the kids from the 3 states that attended camp. Then he discovered that many drum teachers had problems keeping up with him. I remember him doing his rudiments, starting out Largo Laborioso and accelerating to a speed where whatever rudiment he was playing was going so fast it sounded like a roll, then decelerating again. It used to surprise the judges at contest, intimidate the auditioning drummers in the hallway, and bring other drummers and musicians to listen outside the door in astonishment. Our dad instilled great listening skills and he picked up nuances from Buddy Rich, Joe Morello and Gene Krupa among his early influences. One time, Joe Morello came to our house! Ted was ecstatic!
He was playing all the time, and we kept asking Dad, “Is that practice or is he just fooling around?!!!!” Ok, well we had to yell because the dishes were rattling and the TV was turned to max so we could hear it over the drum set in the basement. “It’s timing, and fills, and keeping a steady beat!” he’d yell back. And we’d reply, “What did you say?” He started playing in garage bands that ended up in our basement. When you added the guitars and the vocals, we ended up taking lots of walks. Then, he started playing the melodic percussion instruments such as xylophone and marimba. Joe and I were relieved because he couldn’t practice those at home. He won the MTNA competition by playing a complex Bach prelude on the marimba.
When I went to High School, I was Becky Rounds–band nerd. The next year, when Ted came into the High School, I was Ted Rounds’ Sister. Joe was “Ted’s Little Brother.” I didn’t get my name back until I went to college. Poor Joe, however, went to the same college as Ted did, Eastman School of Music.
From the time Ted was little and beating on boxes, there was always a beat in our house. With all the students he’s influenced, all the concerts he’s given, all the knowledge and insight he’s passed on…the beat goes on. Miss you Ted.