Meet Your Neighbor: Bob Duquesne
Entertainer and songwriter
The first song I played on the piano was when I was 3 years old. My first paid piano bar gig was at the age of 15. I was doing private parties at the age of 10. I have been full-time since 1978. That is when I left the hospital where I was working doing music therapy. I was doing piano bar gigs to pay for my education. I am currently a professional member of the American Music Therapy Association. I also have a Web site at http://www.pianobob.com.
I first learned by ear. I tease people that I got tired of hitting my head against the piano bench as a toddler and crawled up to see what it was. My ear developed at a very early age. I was playing songs by ear before I was reading notes. I took lessons from second to fifth grade.
In my college, I had to take seven semesters of classical piano. When I went into my proficiency exam, I didn’t know any classical music like the other students. They said to play anything and I played Hello Dolly in the key of C and they told me I needed seven semesters of classical piano. I was at a gig where Barbara Walters’ husband said they had someone to sing Hello Dolly if I could play it in the key of C. Carol Channing came up and sang Hello Dolly right beside me. I would love to know if all those kids laughing behind the door that day used the song they played in their proficiency exam later on in their careers? What I do for my living is what I would rather be doing.
I took requests from Shirley MacLaine and Leslie Nielsen. That night at the table she couldn’t think of what she wanted to hear and her friend had to remind her that she really loved “Someone to Watch Over Me.” The favorite song of Jack Klugman is from “Phantom of the Opera.” I had the pleasure of playing to Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner and saw Gilda Radner dancing and I looked up and saw them cuddling.
I came to Tahoe in December 2003.
The beauty of the nature and there was a market for what I was doing at the time and the new village at Squaw Valley.
Currently at the CalNeva resort. I have been volunteering at the Queen of Snows for every Sunday for two years. I am the occasional guest musician for three songs that I write for the Church of Religious Science. They recruited me. Sometimes I will play for their standard service. I have been teaching recently ” on referral ” and teaching voice lessons.
Probably “Piano Man.” People associate it with the piano. I don’t keep a running tab on statistics, but just about every night they want to hear Piano Man. Two of my most satisfying moments was I thanked Burt Bacharach and Alan Bergman personally for writing words and music that has been my living for so many years. It was so satisfying to be able to thank the source that I use in my living.
The work that I do, if it brings happiness and joy to people, then that’s great. Sometimes I substitute the words in the lyrics to make it fresh and new. I try to keep it fresh and interesting. “New York, New York” was my most requested song for such a long time. As an entertainer, it is my duty to play it as exciting and fresh as the first time I played it. It is part of my duty to sell the song.
I was the last to be drafted in the state of Wisconsin. They pulled numbers one through 95 and I was number 95. I was awarded the American Spirit of Honor on completion of basic training. I won a medal and trophy. Then in the Army, I was awarded a certificate of appreciation for the work I did within the Panama Canal zone. I worked with the chaplain at the time. I was involved with working with youth groups. I was stationed in the Panama Canal in my regular tour of duty. I toured Central South America with an Army band performing.
Bob Duquesne is a professional member of the American Music Therapy Association: http://www.musictherapy.org. For more information, check out Bob’s Web site: http://www.pianobob.com. This week’s Meet Your Neighbor interview was conducted by the Sierra Sun’s Kara Fox. For suggestions on future subjects for this column, please send an e-mail to email@example.com, subject heading: Meet Your Neighbor.
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