Saturday, May 10, 2014


I was trying to choose a one-semester elective as I neared graduation from high school.

My sister Alice always had an answer. 

"Typing," she said.  "They'll make you go to college, and if you don't want to hunt and peck the way I do, learn to type.  Haven't you seen Louise [an older sister attending Knox Collegestruggle to make all her papers neat in longhand?  You'll need it, and this is the right time to learn it."  

I was actually afraid of learning to type.  School was easy, supposed to be about books.  You read the books and answer the questions.   When I told her that, Alice laughed at me. "You're always banging around on that piano," she said "so I guess you can learn to bang around on a typewriter."  She pinched my nose and I chased her down the hall.

In 1950, the year I graduated from high school. Leroy Anderson wrote The Typewriter Song.   The first performance of it was with the Boston Pops Orchestra.  HERE  is an audio with the Boston Pops string section playing the typewriter keys.  The typewriter end-of-line bell and metal return sounds are played by the triangle and the brush.
I learned to type, and I'm glad, but I wish I could type like  LIBERACE on youTube, more fun because of the closeups, the tiny candelabra, and the 'keyboard' play on words. 

Do you like slapstick comedy?   I do, and if you do, HERE is  a very young Jerry Lewis in the Movie Who's Minding the Store, 1963.  It was published on youTube on May 15, 2012.  Jerry went on to use it frequently in his comedy routines.

But my favorite is this one, also on youTube, also a symphony, and also using a typewriter as an instrument.  Probably performed by a percussionist, the typist goes through an exaggerated series of readiness rituals mimicking those that musicians frequently perform with their instruments before beginning to play any music.  The camera pans the orchestra for closeups and there is one woman in the clarinets who is so tickled she can hardly come in at the right time, and the first violinist, though totally professional, has trouble hiding her smile.  It's a delightful performance, even though I don't understand a word they say.  Find it HERE performed at The Centro Arte para la Paz, in Suchitoto, El Salvador.  If you understand Spanish, you will understand the jokes.  

If you liked Leroy Anderson's Typewriter Song, do a search on his Syncopated Clock and Buglers Holiday.  They are all mood lifters.

For a Wikipedia history of the typewriter go  HERE.  Lots of pictures.  You can probably find yours.


  1. That was so fun!! First with the memories of typing class. Rows and rows of kids sitting at typewriters (mostly girls), the clicking of the keys, silly exercises of things like f j f j f j f j d k d k d k d k s l s l s l s l and so on. Then Liberace....I seriously think I have a typewriter in the garage like the one he was typing on!!! Kind of scary. As he was erasing, I thought of the two-toned pink and white erasers, the pencil type eraser with the brush on the end, carbon paper, liquid white out, white out paper, typing a paper over and over and over again because of the mistakes.....oh the nightmares with all that. Loved ALL the music very fun!!! Thanks for the smiles.....and the thoughts of mom.

    1. You're welcome, Cindy. Can't you just hear her? And the mistakes. I typed some theses for money, while I was in college.-- 45 cents for the original and 7 cents each for four onion skin copies. If I made a mistake, I had to erase each page separately while keeping them exactly aligned. I bought an upright Royal for that typing. HEAVY! I'm really thankful we don't have to do that anymore. And I love the music. Leroy Anderson (another Scandinavian) also wrote the 'Syncopated Clock' and 'Bugler's Holiday.' I can listen to that happy music all day.

  2. Chris--I, too, took a second year of typing because my very small high school offered very limited choice of electives. My only B in my high school career was in typing after my brother slammed a car door on my hand and I lost a finger nail. Hard to type with huge band aid and typing projects due. The irony of it all was that in order to get a job at the university as a non-academic, I had to pass a typing test when I was nearing sixty. Several years later I met up with the high school commerce teacher who asked if our classes had been instrumental in our careers. I was the only one who answered affirmatively, and all of my other classmates had taken all the business courses, while I had only done the typing. Loved the videos!

    1. Thanks, Anonymous, for your comments. It was a fun piece to write. I sent a note on a music site called Music Fundamentals asking what they thought was used in the Pops piece that may not have been a typewriter. He/she finally answered and suggested a guiro -- have to look that one up.


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