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8. Land Of A Thousand Dances

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

In my last semester I had gotten the name of a concert pianist/piano teacher in New York from a visiting concert pianist so I could follow through on my theory teacher's advice to rub elbows with the best people I could. This pianist/teacher was a protégé of the famous pianist Dame Myra Hess so I felt my continuing piano education was going to be in good hands.

Armed with this name, some optimism, and faith in myself, I headed home to NYC to seek my fortune. The pressure was on because without any income I had to live at my father and stepmother's house where I was frequently asked about the progress of my job search and the necessity of finding my own place to live.

I made a list and sent resumes to every music related employer I could find, including record companies, music publishers, booking agents, music copying offices, printed music and music instrument stores, piano showrooms, music schools, TV and radio networks, etc. etc. and in the process learned a lot about the music business in NY through pounding the pavement and knocking on a lot of doors. If I got a response at all, it was usually negative, but I got one from Chappell Music Publishing which asked to set up an interview. I went to the interview and was rewarded by being offered a job in the Royalties Department which was not exactly what I was looking for, but it was a foot in the door, and a paycheck which would allow me to get my own apartment. I took the job and availed myself of their Songwriter's Workshop and practiced the piano in their new recording studio on my lunch hour. Chappell's president heard me playing one day and assured me that there was a place for me in their Creative division. This eventually led to an interview with the VP of their Creative division which consisted of him asking me, "What can you do for us?" I confidently listed all my skills and accomplishments, but my answers were clearly not what he had in mind.

On my own time, I also kept the creative juices flowing by starting lessons with the concert pianist. He taught in his apartment at the Ansonia Hotel on the upper west side where he had not one, but two Steinway concert grand pianos. It was a fascinating building. I could hear live music being performed or rehearsed in many apartments as I walked through the halls. I also contacted an old friend who was looking for help with some vocal arrangements, played jazz weekly with a large studio orchestra, and started a jazz rock fusion trio called KGB with a drummer who had recently graduated from Berklee, which played some of my pieces. I wrote a Romance for Piano modelled on a Rachmaninoff Prelude which I sent to my college piano teacher and started to develop some material for my first musical.

Anything but typical, and I was only just getting started.....

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