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Putting a Puppy Through School

September 16, 2012



Concert Raises Money To Train Guide Dogs for Those in Need

Stephanie Pieck is an amazing woman. She is an accomplished concert pianist and recording artist, an innovative and inspiring piano teacher, and she also happens to be blind. Her guide dog, Ecko, was trained by Freedom Guide Dogs, a non-profit organization that breeds, raises, trains, and places guide dogs with blind and visually impaired people in the Eastern United States, at no cost to the user.

Stephanie organized this fundraising concert to benefit Freedom Guide Dogs by pulling in musicians from around the Capital Region, calling upon her own students, and coordinating with our Latham store, where the event was held.  

An interesting thing happened while we were organizing this concert. Stephanie set up a series of practice sessions for herself and some of the other musicians, but we had to select a piano on which she and her friends and students would perform. She came in to the store one afternoon and said "don't tell me what brand or size piano I'm playing." the idea was, she wanted to pick the piano that suited her for this performance.

From the pianos we had to offer at this time (our full-size concert grand was already committed to the Chopin Competition), Stephanie chose the Mason & Hamlin Model B, which is a 5'4" grand piano - many would consider that size small for a concert piano, but the Mason B has always been a piano that "thinks" it is much larger than it is. The reason we found this process so interesting is because Stephanie was making her selection free from any preconception of brand, size, or model--an opportunity a person with sight would not readily have. 

The concert, which took place Sunday afternoon, began with several of Stephanie's students, who had raised money through pledges and donations. Students played music that ranged from the cute, like "Never Vex a Tyrannosaurus Rex!", by Paul Drayton, to the contemporary, like "River Flows Through You," by Yiruma. After a short intermission, Stephanie gave the audience a veritable sampler of classic compositions from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. Meg Bassinson, an accomplished pianist and piano instructor from the Capital Region joined Stephanie for a duet from Greig and the lively Hungarian Dance No. 6, by Brahms. The Finale was a bluegrass ensemble, featuring Pete Zenir on mandolin and fiddle, Joe Kilcullen on mandolin, Doug Baker on Bass, and Stephanie on piano.

At last count, well over $1100 was raised and plans for next year's concert are already in the works. Congratulations to Stephanie and many thanks to all our featured performers, our appreciative audience, and all the generous donors who made this concert a success. 

To learn more about Freedom Guide Dogs, visit:

Ecko listens and holds up Stephanie's bench while she plays the piano. 


"DJ" is a Puppy In Training at Freedom Guide Dogs. When he graduates, he will be placed as a service dog with a visually impaired user at no cost.








Categories: Artist Albany | Tags: News, Community