At the age of 5, David Reedy started taking piano lessons from his great aunt Rhoda, and every time he went to her house, he was scared of the bearskin rug, complete with a head. His aunt thought he didn’t like the piano, and the lessons ended.
Reedy started playing on an old piano in the basement of his home and taught himself to play the “Blue Danube Waltz.” When his mother, Barbara, heard him play, she decided that Reedy should try piano lessons again.
“I loved playing the piano, and I’d spend hours upon hours playing and never got bored,” Reedy said.
Reedy, a native of Arcadia, Wis., studied at Viterbo University for three semesters before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to study with four-hand piano specialists Dallas Weekley and Nancy Arganbright.
After graduating from UW-L in 1987, Reedy opened his own piano studio, Reed Music Studios, with 22 students. Twenty years later, Reed Music Studios in Onalaska, Wis., has 400 students taking lessons in piano, voice, strings and guitar and 14 teachers.
“My father was self-employed and taught me the value of being your own boss,” Reedy said. “I wanted my own studio, and when I started my studio, it was a new concept in this area to give lessons in a studio instead of my living room.”
Reedy has had many student winners in the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association state auditions, from Karen and Chrissy Kim to Melissa Wildt and Emily Fiocco. He has performed with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, has given solo recitals and has accompanied many musicians.
“But the focus has been on my teaching and my business,” he said.
Reedy had the idea for the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra Rising Stars Concerto Competition eight years ago. He said the contest has featured some of the best young talent in the Midwest. The string and instrumental winners perform at a regular symphony concert.
“I get choked up with tears when I hear that young talent,” Reedy said.
Who is your favorite pianist?
Vladimir Ashkenazy and Evgeny Kissin.
Who is your favorite composer?
What is your favorite musical piece?
Chopin’s G Minor Ballade.
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite place in the La Crosse area?
At home with my dog, Rachmaninoff, on my lap.
What is your favorite food?
What has been your favorite musical experience?
When I played a masterclass with Yo-Yo Ma at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, and he took his bow and pointed to the music and said, “Let’s take it from here.”
What is the oddest job you have ever had?
I was an aerobics instructor for 3-1/2 years. I had rhythm.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I used to do oil paintings, and after I sold my paintings, I haven’t painted in 20 years.
What is your biggest regret?
I truly don’t live my life by regrets.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be less impulsive.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Never, never, never say you can’t.
What are you most proud of?
The La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s Rising Stars Concerto Competition, which I started.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My Wedgwood collection.
What is your pet peeve?
Who were the major influences in your life?
My parents, Howard and Barbara, who supported everything I did, and my teachers, Dallas Weekley and Nancy Arganbright, who taught me everything I know musically.
What is your biggest fear?
I’m deathly afraid of birds or anything that flies. Being tall, I thought I’d get it.
What is your motto?
Carpe diem — seize the day.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The finals of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s 8th annual Rising Stars Concerto Competition
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27
WHERE: Annett Recital Hall, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Center for the Arts