PIANO?MAN: Milne entertains, educates in visit

MARQUETTE – Elementary students from several area districts listened to a little ragtime music Thursday, earning a sneak peek into the musical stylings of world-renowned pianist Bob Milne.

Milne performed for the kids Thursday morning and also held a community piano workshop that afternoon, followed by an evening performance inside the Kaufamn Auditorium.

Milne also hosts a number of musical workshops for kids during the summer months, saying musical education is important – though he did say it’s not often he puts on a show like Thursday’s, just for students.

“This is actually a little bit unusual, but I love doing it,” he said just before heading on stage. “I’ve always felt that if you know something and you don’t show it to somebody, well, maybe you don’t deserve to know it.”

Milne is an accomplished musician, typically playing 250 shows all across the world each year.

He said the piano has always come to him naturally, picking it up for the first time as a five-year-old. He said he’d heard his mother playing as a young boy and tried to recreate the songs she had performed, thus learning how to play by ear.

He earned a musical degree in french horn as an adult, but was drawn back to ragtime piano playing soon after.

“When I stopped playing the horn, I started playing piano at beer halls in Detroit,” said Milne, a Michigan native. “I could play the piano so easily, it was just easy and a lot fun as a job and this was the type of music everyone sung and enjoyed. I realized if I played other styles, people didn’t enjoy it as much and neither did I.”

Milne said, though he does like other kinds of music, his favorite will always be ragtime, a style that is rich in history and tradition.

“You can listen to it over and over and over and not get tired of it, whereas, a lot of do-wah-diddies, the third time is a little repetitious.”

Milne was invited to the Kaufman Auditorium as a part of the L.G. Kaufman Endowment Lyceum, a long-standing tradition dating back to the 1920s. Founded by Louis Graveraet Kaufman with a $100,000 endowment fund, the program was meant to “bring to the children and people of Marquette some of the finer things in the world of education, travel and art.”

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net.