Upcoming "Together Again" Concert is a "dream come true"
Betty Preston Steele was a substitute music teacher in 1975 when she first met Jamie Pauls when he told her he wanted to "get this hands" on a keyboard in the music room.
Preston Steele told Pauls he could do anything he wanted and said as soon as he touched the keys she "realized the moment he touched the keys he had musical talent." Preston Steele then called Pauls' mother and suggested he take piano lessons.
That was the beginning of life-long teacher-student interactions and friendship between the duo, who are now preparing for their first concert together, which Preston Steele calls a "dream come true."
The pair have spent months rehearsing for their "Together Again" piano concert at 3 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 1, at the Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center.
Pauls recalled taking lessons from Preston Steele starting in 1975 when he was nine, until 1985-86.
"It has been 36 years since I have taken lessons and we have not played together in that time," he said. "That is a long time to not play together."
Preston Steele had been giving piano lessons for a while she started teaching Pauls, and was encouraged by other teachers and musicians to teach him as she would any other student. She ordered braille music from the Printing House for the Blind, taught herself how to read braille music and then taught Pauls.
"He had it much harder than I did," Preston Steele said, "The same pattern of dots mean different things in literary and print versus music."
"It was like learning another language," Pauls said noting that he has memorized the majority of the music he plays now.
Over their years together teaching and learning Preston Steele would record herself playing pieces with her left hand, then right hand and then together. Pauls noted that he did much of his learning by listening to her playing and then repeating.
"I did drill him on reading the music, too," Preston Steele added with a smile. "Having a good ear is a gift - and Jamie definitely got that gift, He can hear a piece and play it and most people cannot do that."
When Preston Steele began coming up with a list of songs to ay for this concert she said she wanted to make sure it was varied and highlighted both she and Pauls' styles. Music they plan o plan includes sacred music, 'pop, folk, "a surprise or two," and several selections like "The Rose," "Home on the Range" a Bach prelude, apatriotic medley and "Through the Eyes of Love," the theme song from the 1978 move "Ice Castles".
"Through the Eyes of Love" has special meaning for the pair as it is the first song they ever played together publicly, during a fundraiser.
Preston Steele and Pauls will be joined for several musical selections by Terri Critten on the flute and Zebadiah Yoko on the cello.
A reception will follow the concert, which Chillicothe Area Arts Council Executive Director MaryLaou VanDeventer said "is a real treat for the opportunity to see two very talented musicians, who have a long history together, to come together for the first time here in Chillicothe."
For more information all Chillicothe Area Arts Council at 660-646-1173.