Tag Archives: piano

A Blast From The Past…


I got a chance to go back in time a bit today.  I learned that my old piano teacher passed away earlier this year.  Dr. McCollom was my teacher for two years in college and an advocate before that through a keyboard camp I attended at our local University. I came to him as a self-taught pianist and he enriched my life with training. He was instrumental in helping me become a college piano major at age 15.  And I remember how he’d shake his head and tell me, “I’m going to break your bad habits if it’s the last thing I do!” Because, you know, I was self-taught, et all.  He was really good for me.  And he helped get me some music scholarships too.  (Some of you might remember that a good part of my early life was spent as a musician, playing piano, composing my own works, competing in performance.)

Thinking on old days of piano and music theory brought me to memories of the 2nd college I attended and music performances on stage for dances.  And I’ve found myself listening to the work of fellow musicians I went to school with. Seeing how far they’ve come.

So, I was thinking that tonight I wanted to introduce you to some of the piano talent I know.

Meet David Michael Bilowus, my choir director from college 25 years ago.  (When I headed off to my 2nd college and spent a year in CA, I also joined choir.)  Mr. Bilowus was a great choir director for us, has always been a talented pianist and one of the kindest of gentlemen I’ve ever known.  Later I worked for the university Music Department and got to know him further.  I haven’t really seen him since those days, but a fellow college bud alerted us to his YouTube channel. 

Mr. Bilowus’ music has a nice easy style and I just can’t get over how beautifully filmed this particular music video is.  Kudos to the director and much jealousy on my part.  Now I want to set up my piano outside in the woods to play.  Only I don’t think the prickly pear around here would seem quite as romantic as his backdrop.

This next video is from a fellow student and friend I went to college with, Rachel Currea.  Rachel is incredibly beautiful and talented.  In school, I couldn’t help but be jealous of her training and obvious command of technique.  Just incredibly talented and trained.  I’m so happy to see that she has truly continued her art and performs and records her music today.  Take a listen, you’ll see instantly what I mean. Rachel impeccably stands out among the rest.  If you’re having a tough day, I dare you to listen and see how you feel after.  If you like this and want to hear more, you can find Rachel Currea’s music on Amazon.

So there you have it, I present beautiful music.  And head off to bed pondering about other fellow musicians and the repairs my two antique pianos both need.

It’s time I get those fixed and sit down to the keys again.

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I Made A Piano Bench! :)


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I made a piano bench for my baby grand piano today!  If you follow my blog, you know I’m also a pianist who aspires to become a piano technician someday.  I’ve already played around with fixing my antique upright.  But today I made a bench for my antique baby grand which came to me without one.  Making a bench alone doesn’t have a lot to do with piano tech work (ok it can if you are restoring), but I’m excited because it’s been needed, I love my baby and I finally found just the means for what I wanted to do.

Earlier this week I found a bench minus the seat, along with about 6 yards of beautiful turquoise velvet corduroy “braid” fabric at our local thrift store that benefits our food pantry. All those years watching Christopher Lowell’s show when the kids were little paid off! Ages ago he demonstrated how to turn a coffee table into an upholstered ottoman.  Well, someone gave me an old couch cushion this morning and I was in business!  I probably should have stopped and took pictures of each stage, but I was just so excited and into the project, I was pretty consumed once it got started.

Not too shabby! 😀

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, handmade

I Fixed It! My Piano ‘n Me…


Today I fixed my antique piano. It’s the Gulbransen 1936 upright piano that my Aunt Kerry gave me when I was like 10 years old. It was originally from her family, but she was not using it and I’d shown promise at piano. She gave it to me under one condition. If I were to ever decide I did not want it, it had to come back to her family. This has never been a problem, since I have never wanted to be without it since it came home with me. This piano and I have been through so much together.

Today, my son loves to play on it as well. But we started noticing that two of the keys did not want to play. A little known secret is that before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was pursuing becoming a member of the local piano technician’s guild. Pregnancy (and massive morning “all day” sickness) rather changed my immediate plans and birth my long term ones. But I have never forgotten, and never become discouraged at, the idea of someday returning to those plans and accomplishing my goal to learn not only how to tune pianos, but fix them.

Anyway, today I got a wild hair. You see, occasionally there are tunes in my head. And when they make their presence known, these tunes have to get out of my head or I won’t get much done. My piano is always my remedy for that. But today, one of the notes I needed was broken.

Perhaps it was due to my penchant for seeing how things work and fixing things. Perhaps it was the recent class I took at The Crochet Liberation Front’s crochet conference/retreat, learning to not only make my own hooks, but fix hooks I haven’t been able to use in years because the wood had split. My teacher was Jim Price, an excellent teacher and a master hook maker. It removed my fear of repairing any wood hook that comes into my possession. Perhaps it was recent events that proved to me that often when we hesitate out of too much caution, we never live and we miss valuable things. Perhaps it’s my shift towards not putting up with over planning or hiring someone else every time anymore. I don’t know. But with a tune in my head, inspiration hit and I needed to pull that piano apart and figure out what was wrong.

I grabbed grandpa’s old screw driver and started pulling things apart.

After getting through layers of dust, I discovered that parts that used to be glued together had come loose and were no longer glued together. I have no idea what they used in 1936, but I headed to Home Depot and picked up a tube of Liquid Nails. It wasn’t the easiest fix in the world, but largely because of several moving parts and not really having all the right tools. I had to pull the whole mechanism out to get to the parts, and without enough space in my home to work (one of the reasons I hadn’t yet returned to the idea) I had to use my bed as a work space. However, I managed to isolate the broken parts, pull them out and restructure them. Took a little doing to get everything back, but it’s done and better than ever.

If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s past time to get me a tuning hammer!

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