Fulfilling a Dream

By Ann Gillis
Photographs by Shannon Finley

Five years ago, I decided to take advantage of John Knox’s offering of on-site piano lessons. During my first interview with Charlaine Free, our piano teacher, she asked me what song I would like to learn to play and I said “Stardust.” Now, thanks to Charlaine, lessons, practice, and a desire to fulfill a dream, I can play Stardust. You might even recognize it! I love music and now I am able to enjoy playing other favorite songs and am ever so grateful that I took that first step to fulfill a dream.

Ann Gillis

During her 15 years teaching at John Knox Village, Charlaine Free has taught 30 residents. She also teaches privately and at Stetson University. She will tell you that she enjoys teaching mature students because they bring a knowledge of life and music from a different era; they are a change from the tedious grading/judging of more intense students. She enjoys a good laugh with her students which is, indeed, the best medicine.

Ed Kristofik, Ann Gillis, Charlaine Free, and Polly Ford

Polly Ford was re-introduced to piano lessons a little over five years ago. Polly took lessons as a child and played occasionally as an adult. Ed Kristofik urged Polly to take advantage of the lessons offered by Charlaine. Polly says there was an instant connection and that connection has opened an entirely new realm of music for her and has allowed her to play pieces that she had only dreamed of playing. Charlaine’s teaching has been supportive and she knows when to push and when to take a break.

Polly Ford

Ed Kristofik was the catalyst in getting Charlaine to resume on-site lessons after a brief hiatus. Ed started his lessons as a new student six years ago. Ed feels brain exercise is a by-product of learning and playing a musical instrument. Having more personal time available to practice and enjoy the lessons and music has been very rewarding. If you have ever wanted to learn to play the piano, take dance lessons, paint, learn a new game, join an exercise class, try your hand at writing and so on, all this and more are available to you here at John Knox Village. A recent AARP article says we should “Stay Sharp” by doing just these things and to also strengthen social connections.

Ed Kristofik

What dream would you like to fulfill?