I’ll always remember my first (and last) piano teacher, Mr. Delegato (the name has been changed to protect the guilty). You see, Mr. Delegato was one of those old school teachers. He was very regimental and very old, around 80 I believe. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice old man and an incredible musician…he could play rapid-fire arpeggios with his pinky finger. But come lesson time, he turned into Mr. Hyde.
It was a Tuesday evening and time for my weekly lesson. Mr. Delegato sat on the sofa directly behind me while I played some warm-up exercises. I was ready to begin my lesson when I turned around. Mr. Delegato’s head was back up against the wall, his mouth wide open. At first, I thought he was dead, at least until he started snoring.
My mom was in the kitchen. I shouted out, “Mom, the piano teacher is sleeping”. I must have shouted it out pretty loud because it Mr. Delegato shook his head a couple of times and woke up. At first, I think he didn’t know where we was but he quickly gathered his senses, stood up, walked over to me and sat by my side on the piano bench.
“Let’s begin”, he said. So we delved right into today’s lesson almost without missing a beat. I began playing some etude in C minor, don’t recall exactly what it was, but it wasn’t exactly my favorite song.
About 5 minutes had passed. I had been practicing this exercise so much I could play it with my eyes closed. In fact, I did just that. And that’s when I heard the thump. Mr. Delegato’s head hit the top front of the piano, and he was out cold again.
“Mom, the piano teacher is sleeping again”, I shouted.
This time, he didn’t wake up immediately. My mom came into the room and had to prod him a few times. When he finally awoke, which felt like about 20 minutes later, once again, he picked up right from where he left off.
Being young and naïve, I thought I was boring this guy to tears. Or maybe it was the music. It bored me too. Why couldn’t I play the songs that I wanted to play, like the Beatles? (it was the sixties after all).
This was my last lesson with Mr. Delegato. In fact, this my last lesson completely. I grew bored with the piano and just wanted to go out and play with my friends.
Thinking back, it must be even harder nowadays. I didn’t have the Xbox, Nintendo, Gameboy and computer options that the kids have today. Any of those things are more fun than piano lessons. If only Mr. Delegato didn’t keep falling asleep on me maybe I would have survived piano boot camp and gone on to be an accomplished pianist.
It wasn’t until about a few years later that I realized Mr. Delegato suffered from sleep apnea. Hey, I just thought it was me.