While growing up in Cedar Rapids Iowa, music and the piano, was always a big part of my life. I started piano lessons at 8 years old with Frank Osmanski, a well-known local jazz pianist at the time, who performed at the Fox and Hounds in downtown Cedar Rapids, and later at the Lighthouse on Mt Vernon Road. He was a gifted musician who inspired me at a young age. I was amazed how he could improvise a piece like "Rhapsody in Blue" that might last anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, with flourish and intensity. He mesmerized his loyal audience every night with anticipation of what he might pull out of thin air. In High School, I became more involved in vocal music and sports. In fact, very few of my peers even knew I played piano. It wasn't until my college years that I really became serious about playing piano, and studied music theory and composition. Frank and I were very close, and would occasionally get together to watch a Hawkeye football game and talk about music at halftime. I would ask questions about things I was learning in college, and he would chuckle; reminding me of those very things in music we had studied together. I realized that I was probably too young to know how to ask the right questions while taking lessons from him, but he filled my ears and heart with beautiful music. Several years later, Frank passed away. I treasure the time I had with him.
After four years of college, I still didn't know what I wanted to do with music as a career, and enrolled in a technical school for Audio and Video Production in Miami Beach. This lead to several jobs working in recording studios, as well as live production on a cruise line. It was a great experience, but later felt it was time to move on, and yet, still didn't have the answer I was looking for, and returned to Cedar Rapids to decide on my next move. Almost immediately, I started traveling around the Midwest with a successful country band as their sound tech. One day, I needed to buy some equipment for the job, and made a trip to the local music store. This store also sold pianos, and had a vacant recording studio. I sat down at a piano and started playing, and was asked if I would be interested in piano sales. I considered it as an option, but was more interested in recording. Long story short, I asked the owner if I could reopen the recording studio, and we came to an agreement to do so. The studio had turned into a storage area and needed cleaning and repair before we could open.
The studio was almost ready when something unexpected happened. I will never forget that day. I had cleaned out everything except for a closet. It was packed full of boxes and equipment. At the back of this closet was a metal cabinet, and the key to the cabinet was lost. So I broke the handle off the cabinet and opened the doors. I was shocked to find the master recordings of my teacher, Frank, who had recorded hours and hours of music before he died, unbeknownst to me. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was as if these recordings had been left there for me. What were the odds that it would be me to find them? Any other person probably would have discarded these old recordings, but for me, it was like finding buried treasure. I quickly transferred the recordings to a CD, and to this day, I continue to learn from Frank's music. This was a moment that changed my life. I knew that I had been lead to this moment somehow, and said yes to selling pianos. I felt a calling of sorts.
I enjoyed piano sales, and continued to do studio work. It didn't take long before I was being recruited by my sales reps to explore new opportunities in piano sales, and decided to go work for a very prominent piano dealer in St Louis. This was a much larger market, and I was doing very well... until my grandfather was given six months to live after being diagnosed with cancer. I decided to move home again to help my family, and spend the time I had left with him. Fast forward, he lived for another 4 years, priceless. The piano store I had worked for had gone out of business, and I went to work for a computer company, until I got a call from West Music. They hired me for piano sales, and soon became the sales manager for the Cedar Rapids/Marion piano department. It was a great opportunity to do what I loved, while being close to family. This would be my career path for the next 14 years.
I felt very fortunate to work there, and had no plans to leave. One day I met my wife for lunch and she could sense I was very frustrated about something. I explained that I had a church committee coming in to look at a grand piano that day, and that the piano I had requested to be tuned had not been and sounded terrible. I was about to be embarrassed, as I had assured them that the piano would be ready for them to try out. My wife asked me, " why don't you tune it"? I told her it was far too complicated, and that I didn't know anything about tuning a piano. She simply asked, "why not"? This was a V8 moment. It had never occurred to me to learn this skill, since I always had piano tuners to do that. I went back to the store and immediately enrolled in a piano technology course that day. My goal at the time, was to be able to maintain the pianos in my showroom, without having to rely on outside piano tuners to ensure that my pianos were in prime condition to sell.
Over the years, I honed my craft of tuning and repair, as there was never a shortage of pianos to work on, and quickly developed a new interest for the piano, in a way that harnessed all of my passions for the piano, technology, and music. I had discovered something that inspired me, that was as infinite as music itself. It was then, I suddenly realized that all of my training and experience had led to this moment, and was now ready to branch out on my own!
After 23 years in the piano industry, I am now in business for myself, offering my experience, education, and passion, to help families and individuals discover their dreams of becoming the musician they have always wanted to be.
My Sincerest Musical Wishes to You,