Experienced Cuban Teacher Publishes Piano Playing Manual

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

jorge-milanesHAVANA TIMES — We hadn’t seen one another in several years. I ran into him on Obispo street in Old Havana as I was coming out of work. We started talking after the initial surprise wore off. We talked for two hours. Among other things, he told me the following:

“I’ve been giving piano lessons to young people in Boyeros for ten years. This gave me enough experience to write a book that teaches people how to play the piano in a way that’s simple and different from the conventional one. It’s a good first step for anyone who wants to start. It’s aimed at all ages and nationalities,” he told me in the unassuming and humble tone inherent to him while we walked.

The last time I’d seen him he had been playing the piano and singing at the Anglican Church. He also composed.

“Are you still doing that?” I asked him.

“Yes, and there’s more to tell. I am a minister at the Open Bible Church, a position that helps me promote my project and the book I wrote, titled Tocar pronto (“Learning to Play Quickly”). Of course, I also heard the voice of God, who told me ‘now is the time!’ And I obeyed.”

“The book covers all of the notes,” he added, “all possible tonalities and inversions of chords and combinations of harmonizing notes. I am very happy. Anyone can learn to play the piano, and many have already.”

“I imagine many people helped you develop your teaching methodology.”

“Yes, I followed the suggestions of students, orchestra directors, music school professors and others, who came to me to see the methods I was using and gave me some ideas to improve the project, for which I later published the book and a CD.”

As far as I know, this is the first time a book of this nature comes out of the church and becomes available to anyone interested, through cultural gatherings such as the International Book Fair and Cuba’s summer programming. The book is being sold at Pabellon Cuba, Vedado, right now.

“I think it’s important to get the word out,” I said. “I will write about the success you’ve had with your book in Havana Times,” I concluded, writing down the book’s web-site.