George Grove Jr. has some 60 piano students, a few are adults but mostly children and teens welcome him into their Hancock Park homes each week.
These pianists, aged 5 to 17, will play works by Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart at his 14th annual Young Musicians’ recital on Sat., April 20 at the Assistance League Playhouse.
Highlights include duets by a mother and son and a five-year-old and his even younger brother.
Several will play their own compositions, including a seven-year-old girl inspired by leaves blowing in the wind. “’I can hear them make a song,’” the young composer told Grove.
Listening is an important component to music, says Grove, who is working on his magnum opus, a book detailing his method and finger exercises.
He takes his young charges seriously. “They’re important to me. They’re important to the world,” he says.
Self taught, as a child he walked three miles to his aunt’s house in Midwestern weather to practice on her piano.
At 13, he startled his first teacher when he asked what he should play. He chose Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
He served as church organist at a monastery, and later trained at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
An avid rock climber—he has taken several students and their parents to Yosemite and other scenic vistas—the sport has similarities to playing music, he notes. It requires strong hands and fingers, razor-sharp focus and balance.
And, they both bring you closer in contact with God’s creation, he adds.
He will perform at a minimum at the upcoming concert, as an accompanist.
“The kids are the stars,” he says.
While he made much more money when he had three offices in private practice, he didn’t like being a criminal defense attorney. At lunch time he’d steal away to a hotel near the criminal courts building to play Rachmaninoff and his own compositions.
After 20 years and his third ulcer he quit the law profession.
An area family asked him to teach their young son and daughter and soon news of his gifts at the keyboard spread. He’s been traveling to homes up and down neighborhood streets ever since.
“George is a great piano teacher and a very special man,” says Laura Reider, mom to three of his students.
“He is a selfless, extraordinary man who is talented in his own right but desires nothing more than to help his students grow into their own both in music and life. He’s one of those special people where it is a privilege to know him and have him in our house every week.”
The Young Musicians morning recital is from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Afternoon recital is 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the Assistance League Playhouse, 1367 N. St. Andrews Pl. Free and plenty of parking.