(Note: This post is about my experiencing teaching Good Day producer Kevin Hernandez during Good Day’s visit. Click here to watch the actual Good Day TV footage.)
It’s 6:45am on a Sunday morning. Charr and I are up, bright eyed and bushy tailed. I look out the window and across the street the TV van is already coming our way. I run out to move our car so they can park in front of the building as we planned.
I meet Kevin, Good Day’s weekend producer, and the cameraman, Steve.
Kevin comes in, and a few minutes later, he asks me to play something while he does his first “tease.” He records on the air while I make up something in the background. My fingers move easily as I improvise a chord progression. I’m pleased with my ease doing this while “on TV” (even though this is the studio I play in every day).
Next thing you know, I am teaching Kevin at the piano. I have decided to teach him the bass notes for “La Bamba.” It was either that or “Twist and Shout,” which is the same notes. But I decide La Bamba, which turns out to be a good choice, because he says he loves that song! After about five minutes or so, he know his part, which consists of playing three notes. Then we do our first segment, and I explain for the camera the three notes I taught him (C, F, G). He then promises the viewers that we are going to do a duet in the next hour.
After this we have some extra time between segments. “So can you teach me something else?” I pause. I hadn’t planned to teach him a second piece! But experience is an aid, and I decide to teach him “Ode to Joy,” which is the first song in the adult beginner book I teach adults. For the next forty-five minutes he practices diligently to get this, because he is
committed to playing it live! Meanwhile, he has the headphones on and is listening to everything that is going on back at the TV station and on the program. How he can concentrate on learning piano while doing this is impressive! With all this activity, I feel a bit like one of those boxing coaches in boxing movies like “Rocky,” giving the fighter
a pep talk while he’s in the ring being stared at by an audience of thousands.
Kevin handles the excitement of the situation like a champ, and after practicing “Ode to Joy” at least forty times, his perseverance pays off when he performs “Ode to Joy” AND we do “La Bamba” for the next TV segment. Nice job, Kevin!
Thinking back on it now, I realize that my approach with Kevin was very similar to how I work with any adult, despite the TV camera and the noise from the on-air TV show in the headset. I told Kevin to take his time, to think through what he was doing, and to allow
his fingers to get used to playing. He was playing “Ode to Joy” with his right hand and so had to get used to using his ring and pinky fingers, which are usually the weakest because we humans rarely use those for much outside of helping to hold things and maybe
typing. It was satisfying to see that he took direction, and I think it helped him to slow down so he could think it through while he played. This helped prepare him for playing it
successfully on the air.
It was fun to be on TV and play piano during the short clips where Kevin spoke into the camera. And in way, it was even more fun to help Kevin, who said he had never played piano before, learn two songs on the spot–and under pressure of a live audience.
This was a first for me! Needless to say, I felt like a very successful coach, and was very grateful for the opportunity.