Piano students bring down the house at senior citizen home

Mini-Mozart: Preston Ferraiuolo shows off his skills to seniors at Norwegian Christian Home.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Residents at the Norwegian Christian Home in Dyker Heights don’t always get a lot of guests, but on June 20, they had plenty of musical accompaniment.

Music teacher John Rotante — known in Brooklyn and Staten Island lounges and inns as “The Piano Stylist” — brought eight of his ivory-tickling students and their families to the senior citizen facility on 67th Street between 12th and 13th avenues to regale the residents with tunes including “God Bless America,” Mozart’s “Surprise Symphony,” Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” and “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast.”

Rotante, who has putting on holiday shows for seniors on both sides of the Narrows since the 1990s, said he thought holding the event in an assisted living home would benefit his students as much as the residents.

“I though it’d help them understand how older people live, and [help them] grow up caring about older people,” Rotante said. “They’re lonely people and they don’t get enough attention.”

Rotante helped his students — who range in age from 7 to 14 — pick and practice their songs, aiming for a mix of musical genres and generations, and ended with a group performance of Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There” as a tribute to the home’s dedicated staff.

“It’s a hard job, to work day to day with these people, and ‘I’ll Be There’ really speaks to that,” the Piano Stylist said.

Norwegian Christian Home activities director Sheryl Larsen said that recital appealed to residents regardless of their age and tastes.

“We have residents from all different backgrounds who like all different kinds of music, and there was something for everyone. And they love kids,” said Larsen.

Larsen said she’d gladly bring Rotante and his class back again, and hopes to schedule similar performances for the home’s seniors.

“It brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. It’s like a gift from the community to the residents,” Larsen said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

More from Around New York