The Night the Lights Went Out (During Piano Class!)

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It was a dark and stormy night… literally.

Outside, the wind and rain came down in torrents. Inside the piano studio, five electronic pianos and an acoustic piano were set up, ready to be played on. Two minutes before the start of my group piano class, I stood at the front door to greet the first arrivals.

All of a sudden…  THE POWER WENT OUT.

Oops.

We were in total darkness.

Piano Class by Candlelight 2

Piano class by candlelight (photo: Charr Crail)

“Come on in!”  I exclaimed without skipping a beat.  “There’s one piano, and another keyboard that is battery powered.  You can double up!”

Somehow I figured we’d make it work.

A few minutes later, there we were: myself and six students (five adults and one child) huddled in the dark room, wondering what was next.

“Okay, this should be interesting!” I said.

We lit candles, and several students brought out their phones as flashlights so they could see their music.

The good news was that this was a group playing class, so everyone was playing the same piece together, something I wrote for the occasion.   In addition to the four students playing on the two keyboards, another student eagerly tried out the hand-held melodica.  The sixth student gave us the count to start playing, and then I rotated him with others so he could play at the keyboard.  Somehow, each student had a role, despite being short four electronic keyboards.

Piano Class by Candlelight 1

(photo: Charr Crail)

This all occurred as heavy gales of wind periodically shook the building, and at one point a loud sound like a tree falling could be heard.  For weather in Sacramento, this was truly nature at its wildest!

And yet the piano class went off without a hitch. The students seemed to enjoy themselves even more than if everything had gone normally. Early in the class, a student said to me, “You know, this says a lot about you that all of us showed up on a night like this!”  At one point, two students played together and the resulting harmony was beautiful. Someone else said this was the perfect night to be playing piano.   By the end of class, they were happily suggesting having a slumber party!

The next morning, a student posted the following note about the class in our Private Student Forum:

“We had such a fun class last night. The storm knocked out the power just as we were arriving. 6 students; only 1 piano and 1 battery powered keyboard. Chris Goslow, piano teacher extraordinaire, was unfazed.  We piled up 2 to 3 students to a piano, an octave apart, each playing our assigned portions […] by candle light and cell phone flashlights. […]  Meanwhile, in the background we could hear the wind howling and the crashes that sounded like trees and branches falling everywhere. […]
The storm added a surreal quality. Teacher and students treated it as a fun adventure and rose to the challenge. I love this piano studio.”

I was pleased to see the piano class unfold so effortlessly. Having been a professional musician for so long, I have learned to adapt to situations quickly.  You can’t control all the elements, and life will find a way to surprise you (once upon a time, one of my gigs got completely rained out… disappointing a crowd of 1200 people!  We ended up playing a few songs inside the living room of the venue, and those who stayed loved it.)

Again and again I see that it pays to be open-minded and think on your feet. You gotta be willing to be adventurous.  Things don’t always go as originally planned. There is an art to improvisation in life as in music.  The ultimate preparation allows you to be flexible.

The same was true that night.

Not only did the students play the music for piano class, we also achieved what I think is a far more important goal: to experience just how fun life can be when you just go with it!

Are you ready to experience the joy of making music in a positive learning environment where you can learn with others, and be encouraged to be your best? Let’s talk about how my new group piano program can help YOU achieve your piano goals and have fun doing it.

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The Night the Lights Went Out (During Piano Class!) — 4 Comments

  1. Wow! What an adventure! Sounds like it was a fun class, Chris, and I could totally imagine being there myself, since I am a student of yours and have been there in your studio. You are not only a great musician but a great story teller as well, not to mention a wise mentor as well. Very cool. Great lesson, to be prepared for anything and don’t let life stop the performance. Work through it! Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

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