Piano donation at Blend is rewarding, inspiring for local retiree

| June 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

TEACHER Anne Bell plays a tune for, from left, principal Nancy Cohen, Susan Levin (holding granddaughter Jordan Levin) and Frances Blend students.


Susan Levin’s late mother, Dolly Schussman, was a phenomenal piano player.

“She was also kind of an eccentric person who painted a lot of things gold,” said Susan. “She even painted her beautiful Wurlitzer piano. My father used to say that if he didn’t keep moving, she’d paint him gold, too.”

When no one in the family wanted the piano following her mother’s death last fall, Susan, who lives on Norton Ave. with her husband, Dennis, thought that perhaps Frances Blend School might be able to use it.

She contacted principal Nancy Cohen, who was thrilled.

“Because many of our students are blind, they have to rely more on auditory and tactile senses,” said Cohen. “Having a piano is wonderful for these kids because they learn by singing and incorporating music into their learning.”

The Levins enlisted their friend, Richard McCormick, to help them transport the piano to the nearby school. “Actually, once we got it out of the house, it didn’t look so bad,” laughed Susan.

The trio pushed and pulled the Wurlitzer down Norton, then turned the corner onto Clinton and into the school’s driveway, where they were met by principal Cohen.

Once inside, they wheeled the upright down the hallway and into a classroom.

“The teacher sat down and started playing and singing opera,” said Susan. “I was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I thought she’d sing a little kid’s song, but she was singing opera in this gorgeous voice.”

As the teacher was playing, students began to file in from recess. “Their reaction to the music was absolutely amazing,” said Susan. “One of the children went right up to the piano and started pushing some keys. The teacher guided his finger to one key and told him to keep playing that note, and she played along with him.

“It was magical,” Susan continued. “I know that my mom was looking down on us… I can’t think of a better place for that gold piano and I know it will be there forever.”

Retired after working for Sony Pictures for 30 years, Susan still has a few clients and continues to do publicity on films.

But her experience at Blend has inspired her. “I’m going to start volunteering there in September… maybe every Monday I can go to the school and read with the kids,” said Susan. “I’m trying all these new things, and I’m finding that the more you give, the more you get back.”

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Category: People, Schools

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