Looking back at my career as a concert pianist (two landmark performances at The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor) I’m grateful to the Gasse School of Music. If they hadn’t discovered me as a 50-year-old prodigy, I would never have earned all that tip money.
The school, in turn, is appreciative of the support of local residents and is thanking us by sponsoring a cello workshop May 15th from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Forest Park Public Library. The seminar is in celebration of Gasse’s 10th Anniversary and will be led by Dr. Tanya Carey. The award-winning string teacher will demonstrate her techniques with cello players of every age and ability.
Daniel Gasse remembers when he and his wife, Sarah, launched their Forest Park school. They started with nine students, with Daniel teaching cello and Sarah giving violin lessons. At first, they only taught one day a week. As each semester passed, they added another teaching day, until they were giving lessons every day but Sunday.
The school later added two piano teachers and a violin and guitar instructor to the faculty. Gasse now enrolls 120 young musicians. Initially, the overwhelming majority of them came from Oak Park and River Forest.
Daniel, however, chose Forest Park because it wasn’t an affluent community served by music schools. He reached out to local kids by offering an “Introduction to Music” course to preschoolers at the Community Center. After a few years, it was discontinued due to low enrollment. Nevertheless, Forest Park kids now comprise a decent amount of the student body. Gasse is also drawing an increasing number of young musicians from Berwyn and Riverside.
Children, of course, learn music easier than adults; and studies show that it helps them improve in every school subject, including gym. Daniel was seven when he took up the cello. His parents didn’t have the opportunity to study music when they were young, so they wanted their five children to learn to play instruments.
Later, Daniel’s father, Luis, became a 50-year-old phenom like me, practicing the guitar every evening. Seeing his father’s dedication and enthusiasm for music was an inspiration. He watched his dad struggle to learn what came easily to him. He didn’t realize what a great role model his father was until he started teaching. Daniel usually has 10 to 12 adult students learning the cello. He sees in them the same determination his father displayed.
Teaching children is a whole different experience. They tend to absorb knowledge, without realizing they’re learning. If parents provide small children with a proper practice structure, they can become self-motivated musicians by the time they’re teenagers.
So, if you’re a musical sensation, like me, or trying to raise one, come to the library. Where else are you going to hear “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and Bach at the same program?
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.