Hi, this is the second blog post giving background information about the stories in Piano Dance. Chapter 2 discussed learning piano tuning at North Bennet School, the Vendome fire, and the Boston Pops’ performance of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. While I was in piano tuning school, my hope was simply to be able to make a living by tuning pianos in homes. I did not realize that I was getting the premier education in the piano technology field, so that I could tune for major symphony orchestras and famous performers. When I heard the concert led by Arthur Fiedler of Copland’s music, it did not occur to me that I might someday cross paths with not just one, both both of them (Chapters 8 and 9).
In 1972, North Bennet Street Industrial School occupied its original 19th century building next door to Old North Church in the North End of Boston. Thousands of tourist walked by it every year without giving it a second thought. By 2013, North Bennet had rightfully gained the reputation and financial backing it deserved, so that it could purchase two new buildings that were up-to-date for all the instruction that was offered. For a link to read of the present day school, click HERE.
For more information about the history of the Vendome and the tragic fire, click HERE.
In this chapter, I introduced the importance of having a certified person to work on your piano. For a link to the Piano Technicians Guild website and their explanation of the certification test, click HERE.
For a link for more information about the Hatch Shell, where outdoor concerts are held near the Charles River in Boston, click HERE:
According to KUSC, in 1974 Arthur Fiedler was the first conductor to perform the 1812 Overture on July 4th with canons and church bells. I highly recommend the video of the 1812 Overture performed in Boston on July 4th with cannons. Please click HERE.
For a link to listen Fanfare for the Common Man, click HERE.
I hope you enjoyed all this extra information. I enjoy listening to the music every time.
Chapter 28 tells of the extraordinary achievements of Maury, a friend of mine, who was in my class at piano tuning school. Maury is not his real name. In Piano Dance, for most of the people who are not famous, I changed the names to respect their privacy. The one exception is Kelly, the piano teacher in Chapter 32. He gave me permission to use his actual name.
I had lost track of Maury over the years, so I searched the internet to find a way to contact him, in order to ask if he wanted me to use his real name in the book. I read through numerous postings on the internet and found an old phone number. I called it to see if he still had the same number and he answered the phone, as he was standing on a street in Mexico. We had a great time catching up on the last 40 years, and he agreed to read this chapter about him. I gave him the opportunity to refuse to have his story published, as well.
After he had read the chapter, we talked on the phone. His reaction was, “I can’t believe you recalled so many details about my life.” I said I found it pretty easy, because it was so interesting. I asked him if I got anything wrong, and he said I got some of the things out of order, but the only thing that was inaccurate was the color of the shoes he wore when he conducted the jazz band in Sanders Hall at Harvard. He recalled that although the group was called, “Composers in Red Sneakers,” he wore purple Converse Allstars when he conducted. Then he said an interesting thing. He said, “It’s not important that every detail is actually accurate. The important thing is that all this is your memories. That is what is important.” I appreciated that advice. As a result, you will find that the story in Piano Dance still has him dressed in red sneakers, not purple.
I asked if he wanted me to use his real name in the story, and he declined. I accepted that and didn’t ask why. I didn’t want him to feel like he needed to defend his choice. For one thing, he hadn’t read any of the other stories in the book, so he couldn’t know whether he wanted to be part of something of unknown quality. Also, we all know now, that privacy is a big issue on the internet. So I don’t know the answer, and I’m willing to live with the mystery.