He doesn't have an exact figure, but David Kellen figures he has taught piano to more than 1,000 students in the Tri-Cities the past 21 years at his Studio K in Geneva.
Kellen will also tell you that while the technology of teaching piano has changed, the mission of Studio K has not.
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"I am training piano players for life," he said. "And by that, I mean for them to be able to be musicians for life, as a hobby or a profession."
Some of Kellen's students have gone on to professional music careers. He did give Leslie Hunt of St. Charles piano lessons when she was young, so he figures he had "a tiny part of influence" on her career, which included a decent run on "American Idol" a few years ago.
Kellen's studio, which first opened in the River Lane plaza in Geneva, moved east to Pianoland, where he has conducted lessons since 2008.
Area residents remember the challenges Kellen faced with his young son Jacob, now 17. Kellen's family appeared on television commercials for hospitals that were treating Jacob's kidney disease.
"Jacob has still had some struggles, but his kidney transplant in 2009 went well, and his kidney works," Kellen said.
Another son, Matt, plays drums in the Elmhurst College jazz band, while his youngest son, Ethan, 6, is a first-grader.
"Matt is quite a drummer, and we've played together at gigs on occasion," Kellen said. "In fact, I got out to playing more, to get Matt some exposure, and I have found myself playing on a regular basis.
"But it's been a very cool thing for Matt and I to do gigs together."
Kellen plays piano at Lord of Life Church in Wasco and performs regularly with a band called Swing Assembly.
The world of teaching piano has changed from paper music sheets to audio and video files on the Studio K website, as well as interactive sessions in which students can play along with the songs on iPads.
"Piano is an old art," Kellen said. "We have to bring it into the 21st century."
Closings pop up: I leave town for a week and come back to find out two businesses that have been around for several decades are closing -- Cole Travel in Geneva and George's Sports in St. Charles.
Neither closing is a big surprise, and the owners' decisions to close were made well before I took my short break, that's for sure. Travel agencies and small sports shops are becoming a part of our glorious past, it seems.
Cole Travel, at 310 W. State St. in Geneva, has been in operation for 52 years and will shut down Friday. But the Gift Box, sharing the same location, will continue operations.
George's Sports, right in the middle of town on Main Street, was one of the first stores I visited when I first started working in the Tri-Cities nearly 35 years ago. Owner George Pocdekaj fixed the laces and stitching on my favorite softball mitt to bring it back to life after many seasons.
And after he told me he was going to attend the Cubs fantasy baseball camp, I knew this was a guy I could relate to.
Rally for Ralph: An event to help a really good guy will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. June 3 at Riverview Banquets in Batavia. Friends of Geneva Alderman Ralph Dantino have planned a "Rally for Ralph" event with food and fun to raise money to help the family deal with the medical bills from what has become Ralph's three-year fight against appendiceal cancer.
Ralph and his wife, Nancy, have done so many things for Geneva, it's time for Geneva to pay back.
For details on the "Rally for Ralph," call Connie Wagner at (630) 208-1324 or Dean or Linda Kilburg at (630) 208-1682.
Care for the troops: Fox Valley Troop Support Inc. organizers spent so much time in the weeks before the Batavia Loyalty Day parade trying to gain attention for the organization and support for the efforts to obtain "care packages" for the troops overseas.
They apparently forgot to ask Mother Nature for some support, considering Batavia's patriotic event on May 6 was canceled for the first time by storms with no logical way to reschedule it.
So, we'll spread some troop support news the old-fashioned way: The organization has set a care-package items donation drop-off and sorting from 5 to 8 p.m. June 1 and a package preparation and sealing day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 2 at the Batavia VFW, 652 S. River St.
Organizations or individuals who would like to help collect items or organize fund drives to help with postal expenses can contact co-chairs Sarah Giachino at (630) 587-3789 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Kathy Tobusch at (630) 937-4181 or email@example.com.
No Rome here: It's been said that Rome wasn't built in a day. But I bet it was built faster than the seemingly endless intersection work we're seeing at Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road.
Smelling salts needed: After opening my real estate tax bill, it took only a few minutes for my wife to revive me with smelling salts.
After clearing my head from what has become an annual shock to my senses, I was left with this thought: I feel sorry for any government entity that comes to the conclusion it has to go to the public with a tax-hike referendum. I don't see one of those passing in the near future.
However, if anyone ever came up with a way that we could vote to actually lower our taxes, you'd see 100 percent turnout at the polls.