He learned music theory from books in the University of Pennsylvania library stacks. She went every week and selected the ones that "felt" right. He would read them and she returned them the following week, exchanging them for another batch. He heard about a work shop with Leopold Stokowski [born 4/18/1882]. The workshop was held once a week and cost $5 a session. Leo had all the participants write some music. After looking over everyone's sheets, he selected Mike as the person to copy all the music and take it to the printer at Columbus Circle. Stokowski called him "Notes".
Notes was unconventional in the way he arranged for the various voices. He would give string parts to brass and horn parts ro strings, etc.
John Sasso, Sunriser horn instructor also attended these workshops.
Leonard Bernstein, Count Bassie and other established musicians also came to some of the sessions.
Playing the Violin
Notes had never had an opportunity to learn to play a string instrument although he loved singing as a bass violin. Stokowski showed Notes how to play a violin. Leo explained to Notes precisely how to play the violin: how to hold the violin, how to hold the bow, how to caress the strings with the bow. The first time Notes played the violin, it sounded so good he upset the First Chair. She had practiced daily since childhood, had majored in music and Notes played better than she - on his first try. Stokowski had founded the American Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and invited some workshop attendees to join it.Leo returned to London in May 1972. Notes was called when he died 9/13/77.
He played piano with opposite hands, playing melody with the left hand and chords with right. He took lessons with Irma Valetini [daughter of Leopoldo] once a week for a few months and learned to play conventionally.