Jeffrey Reid Baker: Pianist
I started playing the piano when I was around nine years old. It was just for fun and I liked making stuff up. My father was a composer so I thought everybody did that. When I was around 10 years old, I heard a recording of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata with Rudolph Serkin. I wanted to be "able to do that” immediately. So, my parents started me on piano lessons with a local teacher, David Hudson Smith. I progressed quickly with him. When I was in prep school, I was basically self-taught for four years. But I listened voraciously to music on the radio. I did learn a bit of music by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Mussorgsky among others. It wasn’t until I went to college that I met the piano teacher that would make me a true “pianist”. Imelda Delgado. My next pianist epiphany was when I was studying rhythm theory with Prof. Rudolph Schramm. Many of the things that Imelda had taught me became even clearer as I better understood the deeper workings of rhythm. When I met composer Dick Hyman in the summer of 1974, he suggested I learn to play anything that I might be asked to play. I was mostly classical until that point but took his advice to heart. I eventually became a much more rounded player and musician... and teacher!
Demonstrating pianos at PianoTek in Huntington Station, N. Y.
Beethoven's Für Elise
Demonstrating a Steinway B
Gershwin • Beethoven • Moszkowski
Manilow • Joplin • Mozart
In 1971, my father, who was the musical director of the Huntington Community Band, asked me, 5 weeks before the scheduled performance date of August 6, if I would (could) play the first movement of the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 with the band. I said "Yes". I had never worked that hard to learn a piece but it was well worth it. I became a much better teacher because of that experience. I found the reel-to-reel tape of that concert about 15 years ago and saved it to a digital file. It was recorded by our neighbor, Dr. Paul Spenadel, who owned some cutting edge recording equipment in 1971. I played a small console piano if you wonder why it's a bit claustrophobic! And, it almost rained that night. Two weeks later, I made a movie called The Cavity. It was a very productive (and fun) summer!
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