The delicate art of finding role models. Hint: Sometimes, you just get lucky!

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Screenshot 2021 05 30 4.27.54 PM 336x454 1From out in the driveway where I had just pulled in, I can hear her practicing.

The sounds of my daughter’s electric piano pushes through the closed windows. I recognize it instantly. She’s playing Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.”

You know this one. Everyone knows this one. It’s the spooky organ music played by the Phantom of the Opera in the ’60s, played at the opening of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 1930s, played I’m certain in every Halloween special by the Simpsons. I don’t know this for a fact, but I bet Vincent Price must have played this at some point.

She’s barely able to play “Jingle Bells” yet, so I’m curious about this miraculous and terrifying transformation.

Turns out she’s following a YouTube video of piano tabs for the famous piece. But she’s trying to learn it. She’s writing down the music on a blank sheet of paper.

“I want to show my teacher,” she tells me.

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Little Bean with members of The Warning, left, and Thunderstruck. Photo/Dan Szczesny

Her piano teacher also happens to be her school music teacher, where she’s taking chorus and learning recorder. My daughter’s teacher has warned me of this, that when kids first start to learn, they want to jump right to learning actual songs instead of learning the basics first. Though to be honest, I kind of thought she’d want to learn Bad Company before Bach.

At any rate, music has become a larger part of her life now, both in terms of playing it but also in terms of exploring music in general. She and I have already walked far along the pop and rock ‘n roll road, going to shows and meeting bands.

She brought home her first pick from a meeting with “John” of the Studio Two, her favorite Beatles band. She’s met the three sisters from her favorite rock and roll band, The Warning, and stood in the front row of a Boston club as they melted our faces. And she’s been gifted drumsticks by Thunderstruck, an AC/DC tribute band that were so enamored by my daughter’s rock and roll spirit that they dedicated “Highway to Hell” to her during the show.

At 9, she’s a veteran of the live scene. But I don’t play. I can certainly tell her when Ronnie James Dio played his last show with Black Sabbath (Aug. 31, 1982) but learning how to actually play “Heaven and Hell” is going to be up to her.

But something, perhaps critical, happened recently. She found role models. There’s a teenage rock ‘n roll band out of Canada called Freeze the Fall (FTF) we’ve been listening to lately and I randomly reached out to let them know that Little Bean enjoys their work and that she’s learning music as well. (Technically, I’ve been in contact with their parents since they are kids as well.)

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Canadian band Freeze the Fall/Alexis Feist Photography

And in an amazing moment of generosity, they sent her a swag package with a kind note. So now, Little Bean is working up a series of questions for the band which we’ll turn into an interview story. (Little Bean desperately wants to know if the band members have any pets!) And, after FTF release their first EP next month, they offered to do a video meet and greet with her. In short, she found musical pen pals, kids not that much older than her, playing music and thrilled to try to inspire other kids to do the same.

Meanwhile, back at home, the Bach piece ends and I say, “Say, how’s your regular practice coming?”

She shrugs and goes back to “Hot Cross Buns” which she can play without tabs. But yeah, I get it, it’s not the same. Maybe her new pen pals can give her the kind of boost that only one kid to another can provide. Maybe a summer of live music will inspire her to dig deeper into her own creativity.

Maybe I should take her to see “Phantom of the Opera.”

About this Author

Dan Szczesny

Dan Szczesny is a longtime journalist and author who lives with his wife and energetic daughter in Manchester. Dan writes a daily journal called Day By Day where you can subscribe for FREE to get essays, articles and updated. Learn more about Dan’s adventures and Day By Day at