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Learn Your Own Tune: Amelia’s Story

Amelia loved playing the piano. Although she faced significantly more challenges than the average student, she didn’t let that stop her. For one thing, Amelia suffered from brittle bone disease and was confined to a wheelchair. In addition, Amelia was blind and had to rely on Braille music. Since she needed her fingers both to read the music and to play the notes, Amelia had to memorize pieces one hand at a time and then put them together. The process was tedious and frustrating and Amelia couldn’t help wondering if there was another way.

Amelia asked her friends and family if they knew a piano teacher who might be able to help her. Her brother immediately recommended his children’s teacher—Ben Garber, the owner of Steinway & Sons. Amelia contacted Ben and they set up a meeting.

As Ben began working with Amelia, he got an idea. He thought it would help if she learned to understand harmony. If she did this, she wouldn’t have to read every single note. This would allow her to interpret entire measures and sections of music more quickly by understanding the pattern and chords. This way Amelia would be able to begin playing music without all of the tedious work of memorizing each note, one hand at a time. Ben had always believed that students can play more easily and musically if they understand what they are playing, so it made sense that these same skills could help a blind piano player learn more easily and enable her to jump to the next level.

Amelia was fascinated by this idea. It had never occurred to her that she could learn to interpret patterns with music. For her, it was like a light went on. Within a short time, she had become a better piano player and was enjoying playing the piano even more since she could learn songs more quickly.

Ben has taught hundreds of piano students in his career, students of all ages, abilities and in a wide variety of circumstances. Ben believes in teaching real skills and techniques. But he also believes in building relationships with his students and in taking time to understand them—their strengths and challenges—no matter how unique they might be. By doing this, he is able to shape a path that works for each student individually and help students dig deeper within themselves to reach potentials they might not have even known they had. To read more about taking lessons with Ben, visit the Lessons section.