by Jonathan Yourtee, Piano Consultant at M. Steinert & Sons.
When I was four years old, growing up in Windham, NH, I wanted to play the violin! Sadly, after looking for a teacher, my parents could not find one that suited them. So, they suggested piano! Being an impressionable young child, I said of course, and I fell in love.
I started taking lessons from Stephanie Ratte, a clarinet teacher and piano player. My lessons took place in a church in a nearby town, and I couldn’t get enough. The piano I grew up playing was a Bell upright piano, built in the mid to late 1800s in Guelph, Ontario. It had ivory keys, and only had 66 keys! Don’t worry, I finally acquired a baby grand Conover Cable piano a few years later!
After taking lessons from Stephanie for a few years, I took lessons from a few other teachers, but one really stood out to me. Dr. Zenob Nalbandian was an Armenian priest, and a phenomenal pianist that lived down the road. He was hard on me, but I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to push me to be better. I stayed with him until I went off to college.
I went to Mt Allison University and studied with Dr. Stephen Runge for a year, in New Brunswick. That year, I realized I wanted to be closer to home, and began attending the Longy School of Music of Bard College, in Cambridge, being coached by Dr. Hugh Hinton.
Over the years, I have played clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, handbells, guitar, and many others. I have played in concert bands, military style marching bands, directed and played in pits for musicals, as well as many one off shows and gigs.
For 25 years of my life, I have had music as the focal point of who I am, and I wouldn’t change it at all. It is who I am. A player, a lover, and an enthusiast of music.