Vancouver has been the home for the School of Piano Technology for the Blind since 1917. Today, it is known as the Piano Hospital. Having a maximum class load of 12, the curriculum is designed to teach piano tuning, servicing, and rebuilding to students who are either blind or visually impaired. The current Director of Instruction is Don Mitchell. He was born with microphthalmus which eventually left him completely blind. When asked where his love of music stems from he replied, “my mother always told me, “You started singing before you could talk.””
Don has been a Vancouver resident since 1971, teaching at the school. When asked his opinion about perfect pitch, he responds by stating, “I don’t believe in perfect pitch… I would prefer to call if perfect pitch identification.” The most challenging part of his job is teaching equal temperament, a method of tuning a keyboard instrument. What comes easy and naturally is teaching what he is passionate about – music!
Music is his vocation and his hobby. In 1994, Don teamed up with Judy Koch to sing and play their instruments. A few years later because of an elbow issue, Doug Smith was asked to help out. That was the beginning of the trio known today as Three Together. They practice at least once a week and sing at different venues as often as they can. The Beatles, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Hollies and John Denver are a few artists that they draw their inspiration from. When asked what style of music they do, the reply is “folk rock with close harmony and with acapella segments”. 10 years from now, if Don has his way, he will still be singing with Doug and Judy with the same drive and passion he has today.
COUV.COM is working on a documentary highlighting the Piano Hospital and the life of Don Mitchell. Until it’s release, we hope you enjoy this recorded practice session of Three Together.
Three Together will be performing at the Vancouver Elks this Valentines day to benefit SW Washington veterans. Visit http://www.clarkcountyvetscourtboard.org/events for more information.