David Green is first and foremost a piano teacher and lover of music.
An added bonus for his students is that he’s a gifted storyteller and historian. The world has changed in unimaginable ways since he was born in 1923 but the one constant in his life has been music. He’s been sharing his love of music now for over 40 years.
Born in Broken Bow, OK, Green doesn’t remember a day without music thanks to an astute teacher who recognized his talent. His father died when he was just two years old, leaving his mother a young widow with four children to raise.
“We were a needy family,” said Green. “I was given piano lessons for free but don’t tell my students that.”
His mother moved from Oklahoma and settled in San Francisco’s mission district. He attended school in San Francisco where he was fortunate enough to have wonderful music teachers, many of whom were part of the San Francisco Symphony. During his school years, Green learned to play the cello and string bass.
“As a student, when it came to music I was the jack-of-all-trades,” said Green. “One day my music teacher said, ‘we have a new instrument called the glockenspiel and Green you’re going to play it.’”
As a young adult, Green joined the Navy, which he jokingly calls his “schooling.” Green came out East in the 1950s and though he worked in the insurance business, he always kept his hand in music. He sang professionally and learned he had a knack for selling organs and pianos. He worked at Dean Piano located in West Hempstead.
Many of Green’s customers recognized his mastery and requested lessons.
“My business has been word-of-mouth,” Green gladly acknowledges. “I have taught up to 50 students on a weekly basis.”
When asked what has kept him going all these years, Green doesn’t skip a beat and cites all the joy teaching has given him. He has received many letters and cards from students and at a minute's notice thank you cards spill out of his briefcase. He’s even proud to share that many students have written essays about him and have gone on to higher learning in music.
"Teaching has brought me a lot of joy," said Green. "I feel like the Grandpa to so many Garden City children. That’s why I keep teaching and as the saying goes, 'I’d rather wear out than rust out.'"
"Mr. Green is an institution," said Fran Lutfy whose daughters both took lessons with him. "He’s warm and fun but also expects his students to practice. I’ve had other piano teachers but Mr. Green is phenomenal and he teaches proper methodology."
He’ll tell you that you don’t teach 40 years without learning a thing or two. In an age where there seems to be a shorter route for every endeavor, his measure for success is good old fashioned practice. He jokes his baton is not a magic wand. Another one of his favorite sayings: "Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration."
"Talent is a no-no," advised Green. "Students need to spend time with the piano."
"Everyone loves him," shared Alyssa Mullins, a Garden City Middle school student. "He tells so many interesting stories and he’s so proud of all of his students. He’s the best piano teacher I ever had."
Green raised four children and notes he didn’t force any of them to play although some of them did take up the piano.
Long ago it was a teacher that recognized Green’s talents and he continues to pay it forward one key at a time.
Eighth grader Alyssa Mullins nominated David Green for this Patch Chat.