Q & A with Dennis A.

For this blog post, we interviewed Dennis from North Dakota! Dennis got his start in the world of music rather unconventionally, but my, what a story he shared! Keep an eye out for more Q & A blog posts like this one: I enjoy hearing from students, and I want you to be able to read about their story with Piano in a Flash too!

Q: When did you first learn about Scott and Piano in a Flash?

A: I think it was back in February, when the virus was in its early stages. I am retired from the Department of Defense, I was in the Air Force for 23 years and an Air Force contractor for 17 years. We recently settled in Grand Forks, we love the area. I do a lot of volunteer work for the hospital, American Legion, and my church’s Knights of Columbus group. The problem was, with COVID coming on, all the volunteer work went south. It left me with very little to do. At the same time, I was talking to music stores about possibly taking music lessons. They told me they would recommend it, but there was quite the waiting list for lessons. So, needless to say, I had my tail between my legs and went back to my office, I got on the computer, and the next thing I knew, I started seeing emails and ads for Scott’s piano lessons. The free intro course at the start drew me in.

Q: Who or what inspired you to start playing piano (or who/what inspired you to pick up lessons again)?

A: It was something of an evolution. I started at eight years old with the accordion. You got your bass on one side and a small version of the keyboard for your right hand. From that point, I knew how to read music and the basic conventions of music. My brother had the organ, so I learned that as well. Since I was moving around often with the Air Force, I couldn’t take an organ with me, and that’s when I learned the keyboard. I’ve been playing keys since 1987.

Q: Did you have any prior musical training to starting Scott’s lessons? Do you play any other instruments?

A: I played the accordion, organ, manual with bass pedals, and later I worked myself over to the keyboard. I knew I wasn’t great— the percussion side makes you sound really good and takes care of some of the stuff I had never learned. I did take that first free course with Scott, and after that, I knew these courses were absolutely made for me. I am a great reader of music, and have been for a while, but my issue with the keyboard is reading the bass clef in sheet music. Scott taught me that, as long as I know the chord, the left hand would take care of itself… and he was right! This opened up all sorts of opportunities for me. He is a great, understanding teacher.

Q: Has playing piano helped you in other areas of life? Examples: stress management, arthritis pain, dyslexia, focus, bonding with others, etc.

A: Not a story about me, but rather, my youngest daughter, Leslie: She lives in California, where she is a massage therapist and certified holistic medicine practitioner. One of her biggest contributions to holistic medicine is music bowl therapy. She brings her singing bowls, and offers singing bowl therapy for the community at large. She usually has at least 15 women and kids join her, and she offers that free of charge. She knows the frequencies of each of the bowls addresses a different Shakra, or part of the body, that may be out of alignment … so to speak. That’s why music is so important to our personal wellness.

I also volunteer to play at the hospital frequently, and I often have people come up to me to tell me how relaxing my playing is. I’ve been playing at the hospital for the last eight years. We also have some senior facilities in the area, and I’ve played at some of those as well. There’s just something about music that really makes a difference in the healing process.

The first senior care facility I went to was a rather interesting situation— it was like a classroom. They were all in their specific rows, and I asked if I could play in a different format next time— in their coffee shop. I didn’t want it to feel like a formal recital for these people, I wanted it to be much more intimate than that. Playing in the coffee shop was a much better experience— folks were smiling, some were keeping the beat and overall, it was a much more laid-back, fun time.

Q: What’s your next musical-related goal?

A: I still haven’t finished the Course! I got to part three, where the chords get more aggressive— majors, minors, the 7ths— I need to work on those in brutal detail.

THANK YOU Dennis for sharing your story with us! I really enjoyed hearing how you came to find Piano in a Flash and how it has helped you master the piano, in addition to your other instruments.

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