Grace Geyser: My love of music began when I was in the 6th grade. My mother bought me a piano, and started my love of music through lessons with a great local teacher. I look back now, and I am amazed at the kaleidoscope of talents that one music teacher had: Grace taught me how to play piano; but above that, she taught me how to read classical music, play by ear, write down songs I heard on the radio (then play them), and write my own music. From her I learned music theory, a love for piano, organ, opera, and classical music. She also gave me singing lessons. She coached me in the Bel Canto method of singing, and taught me a wide range of performing, from being a diva soloist on the stage, to a humble accompanist for a crowd wanting to sing Christmas Carols. With the help of Grace, I was soon playing the piano for school dances and programs, and I became a crowd pleaser, playing hits off the radio, all by ear. She was a great encourager, and a truly remarkable personality.
Laura Lee Lukas: Concert pianist, 4th generation Beethoven student. (Wager Swayne,Theodor Leschitizsky, Czerny, Beethoven). When I was a teen, and in my early 20’s, I took lessons from Laura for 5 years. Laura taught me how important discipline, hard work, and following a method were, to accomplishing a goal. I will forever be grateful to her for making me practice 5 hours a day (I wasn’t all that grateful in high school and college, though…). She gave me the confidence and grace to make it all the way through a complicated piece, and show grateful appreciation for applause.
Gerard Faber: From the Netherlands, Faber was 3rd top organist in the world at the time of my lessons. Lessons for one year. Gerard was such a master that he was famous for being able to compose a fugue on the spot, in front of a crowd of hundreds of people. He would have someone in the audience hum a random short little tune, then sit down at the console of a pipe organ, and produce a masterpiece from that small improvised tune. William Tapsfield: World-class big band trombone soloist. Tapsfield was my theory teacher in college, and an amazing musician, and Christian. There wasn’t a question during class that he couldn’t answer. And we asked some pretty complicated questions. This foundation was the pre-cursor to my love for arranging, and his guidance gave me a confidence that was a great finish to all the theory lessons I had been given since a child. A good foundation in music theory is worth pursuing.
Elmer Bernstein, Lawrence Foster (they were the Alexandre Desplat and Hans Zimmer “back-in-the-day”): spent one summer in an orchestra and choir under their direction.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Famed Italian composer and conductor. I performed in the opera chorus of the world premier of his opera “Song of Songs”, which was written from the Song of Solomon. Mario was present at the concert. It was a beautifully set opera and an honor to be chosen to sing with them.