If a Piano Could Talk . . .

CCPL - 1947 Model M Steinway Piano cover
CCPL - 1947 Model M Steinway Piano cover

The legacy of an heirloom instrument and its family

Sam Ferrara’s 1947 Model M Steinway Piano, courtesy image

McGRATHPR.com – Extraordinary stories persistently evolve when the timeless art form of music is handed down, touching generation after generation in a family tree.  In more than one case, the gift has created careers and destiny, all under one roof, consistently on one sole instrument.

Blauer generations at work, courtesy image

“My great grandfather Louis Blauer purchased a Steinway piano model M in 1947 at Boston’s M. Steinert & Sons, the historic piano company still in business today, more than one and a half centuries after it was founded,” shares Sam Ferrara, a lifelong musician raised in Baltimore with sentimental ties to Cape Cod.  “By the mid-1950’s, Louis had handed it down to my grandfather Maurice Blauer.”  Maurice had more than earned this generous inheritance while transforming his father’s failing textile company into the successful Blauer Manufacturing Company in 1950.  The business is still headquartered in its original factory in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, a source of garments and equipment created for military and municipal services.

A young Sam Ferrara with his grandfather at the family’s heirloom piano, courtesy image

In the 1970’s, Sam’s grandfather retired to the family’s prolific multi-generation home in Yarmouth Port, where he enjoyed leisurely hobbies, sport activities and basking in the joy of his children raising families of their own. “My cousins and I spent our summers in that house from birth. My grandfather passed in 1992, followed later by my grandmother in 2011, when my aunt inherited the home, still sustaining it in the family.”  He recollects memories of playing under the piano as a young toddler, while his grandfather performed Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody” just above.  He danced in circles alongside many of his cousins, memories that linger as testament to a happy youth.

A young Sam Ferrara with his grandparents in their Yarmouth Port kitchen, courtesy image

“I have always felt at home on that little stretch of Route 6A. All of the places I called home as a child have vanished, everyone’s moved, or taken up new roots,” shares Ferrara sentimentally.  “Nana’s house, as the Yarmouth Port residence was affectionately known, has always been the one place I could count on.”

Starting with these early roots, Ferrara’s entire life has been inspired by music, in that home, on its’ historic piano, still in place today.  Following his education at Berklee College of Music, Ferrara was offered, in his own words “the chance of a lifetime”, to occupy the home in 2015 for just the cost of its utility payments.  “At this point the property had been sitting vacant for a few years,” shares Ferrara, “I knew it was in rough shape – this dusty, empty museum, sitting as testament for generations of my family’s childhood – but the dwelling and that piano were the foundation of my entire life’s history.  I knew I had to continue the family heritage, it was evident destiny.”

As this pivotal point in his adult life, newly married, with a need to launch a reliable career, Ferrara tapped his music education and began teaching private piano lessons.  As his student base grew, he yearned to teach at home, in the haven he was comfortably familiar, on the instrument he played his entire life.

Sam Ferrara, courtesy image

The piano, like the house, was in pretty rough shape. It had served to survive seven decades of plunking and playing, but Ferrara was determined to sustain its longevity, and the instrument’s ability to influence other musicians, like himself.  He recalls other childhood memories, like his fascination with Piano Tuner Pat Selemon’s visits to adjust the instrument, and he at only age 6, enthralled by all her tools and tuning forks.

“I became intrigued with learning about tuning pianos myself and started researching what that would take,” shares Ferrara.  He contacted every Cape Cod-based piano tuner he could find, introducing himself, flooding each with countless questions, and visiting a few of their workshops. Each tuner was generous with their assistance and information. “One of them gifted me my first tuning wrench, some rubber mutes, a crash course in tuning, and sent me on my way.”

Sam Ferrara with his young son, courtesy image

Ferrara attempted to tune his family’s heirloom piano, which resulted in disaster. “I managed to make it sound a bit less awful, but I broke a string in the process. In the years since, I’ve learned and grown so much. The piano, the house and my life all grew in parallel together, we’re all in much better shape now!” 

Now married with a young son to raise himself, Ferrara is building a family and his teaching and tuning business Cape Cod Piano Lessons on the foundation of his ancestors. He teaches most of his students from the family’s historic home these days. Whether he is engaging in communicating the style of Mozart’s masterworks or teaching improvisation techniques for a jazz standard solo, Ferrara enjoys the sentiment of conveying instructions to his students over the aging wood of the three-generation heirloom piano. He is intent on giving back to his community, now collaborating with his childhood piano tuning inspiration Pat Selemon, to provide lower cost piano lessons through the All Cape Piano Fund, just one of his efforts to sustain the Cape as his true home.

To learn more about Cape Cod Piano Lessons and tuning or Sam Ferrara, visit capecodpianolessons.com, call (443) 280-2069, or email capecodpiano@gmail.com.

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