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Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

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Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Admin Andrew on Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:34 am

This is just an example:

I"m just going to copy my bio onto here.


Andrew’s BIO

I’m writing this bio for those of you who wish to know more about my background. I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on December 1, 1986. My family moved to Prince George, British Columbia, Canada when I was five years old. A few months after our arrival, my mom asked me if I’d like to take piano lessons and maybe make some new friends. I replied yes! That’s how it all started.

I loved piano right from the beginning. Surprisingly enough, I was obsessed with scales, and I loved playing them sitting on the bench backwards! I was somewhat dramatically inclined, and obviously not much has changed. Four years into my piano lessons I composed “Victory”. Upon entering it into an 8-12 year old category province wide competition I won! That was my first taste of success with piano. An article was published in the local newspaper along with a picture of me holding a small trophy. During this period of my life I enjoyed sitting at the piano for hours just playing, improvising and composing.

Upon graduating from the Music for Young Children Program, I enrolled in the Prince George Music School studying with Nil Rommel. She taught me Grade 1 through Grade 7 Royal Conservatory of Music. I loved trying new pieces above my grade level. For example, while in Grade 6 I taught myself the First Movement of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven in one week. My skills would improve quite a lot by doing this. I think my teacher was impressed and felt it was time for me to study with another teacher. She recommended me to her own teacher, Lori Elder. I was told that I would have to audition for her. Just that word alone scared me. I’d never done anything like that in my life. Many questions ran through my mind; what if, what if, what if…. When the time came to do the audition I was amazed to see two grand pianos proudly placed next to each other. Surrounding the pianos were bookcases stacked with books. There was just so much to take in. I felt like I was in piano heaven! All of this intimidated me further, but I decided that I’d just have to play my best and pray she would accept me. I played Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven and also a few other pieces including the first page of the Revolutionary Etude by Chopin. After playing the pieces we talked a little. She told me I could come back next year and study with her. (YES!) Upon finishing Grade 7 with Nil, we said our goodbyes. I was sad to say goodbye, however, I was also excited to continue my piano journey.

The following September I began my piano lessons with Lori Elder, a piano teacher with a much respected and well deserved reputation. She immediately started shaping new techniques in my playing. I remember working on a Beethoven piece together. She taped herself playing it and had me listen to it EVERYDAY! She would drill me over and over again making sure the tempo was steady. I’m so happy things worked out the way they did! I started to learn so many new things and techniques that previously I was unaware of. I and many others consider her to be the top piano teacher in northern British Columbia. I’m so thankful to Nil for her recommendation.

About the same time as I started to study with Lori I landed my first job. It was a public skating supervisor at a local indoor public skating rink. This job was important in my development as a teacher and person. My responsibilities had me dealing with the public a lot. Eventually I also began to teach children’s skating classes. It was here I discovered my love for teaching. It felt so good to pass on my own knowledge and skills to others and see them come to enjoy the thrill of skating.

While I continued to teach skating my piano ability continued to improve until I reached the point where I felt that I could learn anything and take on any piece. When I finished Grade 9 I began work on an ARCT piece, Chopin’s Polonaise in A Flat Major. I managed to learn and memorize all fourteen pages in just two months. This piece became my triumphant piece. I was so at home playing it that I could literally play this piece back to back to back twenty times in a row without a pause or break. Playing any amount of notes or chords required little energy and no consequence to my stamina; it seemed nothing could stop me. When I performed this piece in public, people told me things like; “The keyboard looked like it was on fire.”, “You have such a big sound!”, and “You play so amazingly.” All these comments began to go to my head a little.

During that summer I had the opportunity to work at a YMCA Youth Camp as on of the leaders. It was a blast. I was put in charge of running a “music day”. This was to become my first experience of teaching piano. I was a bit nervous; however, I just buckled down and did my best. I ended up teaching twenty children how to play a piano piece. At the recital every child was able to play their song. Every child except one had never taken a piano lesson before. Bonnie, one of the girls at the camp, enjoyed playing the piano so much that her mom approached me inquiring if I would teach her child how to play piano privately. I was a bit shocked because I didn’t consider myself a piano teacher yet, but I realized that every piano teacher starts somewhere. So I told her I had little to no experience and I wouldn’t charge much because of that. Bonnie who was eight years old at that time amazed me; she’s extremely gifted, brilliant and dedicated. In the first year of piano lessons she completed three years of studies.

Soon after this I began performing on a very regular basis. I started out at a senior citizens home called Simon Fraser Lodge. I would play for an hour every Friday before lunch. Before long I expanded to other facilities, eventually working my way up to playing to an audience of over 650 at a festive dinner on a beautiful grand piano. I was performing on average about four solid hours a week All this performing further accelerated my skills and helped me understand what made a good performance, how to play to the crowd, draw people in, and put on a satisfying show. Standing ovations were not uncommon. Once Ian, a friend of mine, and I performed a violin piano duet on stage in front of over 4,000 people on Canada Day. It was awesome! It’s still to this day one of the greatest memories of my life!

Everything was coming together and I was looking forward to attending university, receiving my degree in Performance, teaching a little, and hopefully becoming a concert pianist. I had just started to learn Chopin’s Concerto in e Minor (it’s over 100 pages long) along with a new Beethoven Sonata when disaster struck.

Out of the blue I woke up with massive pain in my chest. It hurt to breathe. My body throbbed in agony. Every breath I took felt like my ribs were shattering from the inside out. My neck and eyes hurt, my whole body was in pain. I experienced cold chills, sweats, and vomiting. But worst of all my heart felt like a thousand knives were stabbing it in all directions while at the same time I felt pressure on my chest as if a sumo wrestler was standing on it. My heart felt bruised and tight, almost as if a boa constrictor was squeezing my heart from the inside wrapping itself tighter and tighter. Every time my heart beat the pain felt as if someone was punching my bare heart. Eventually my breathing became so shallow that when I lay down I couldn’t take even a drop of air into my lungs. While at the hospital my breathing became even worse and I started to lose consciousness. It was determined that I had pericarditis, which means inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. The doctors put me on some anti inflammatory drugs, massive amounts of medication, but they didn’t warn me of the side effects. One of them was muscular weakness. It took over a month until I could do normal things like walking or even playing the piano. When I tried to play the piano my muscles were so weak. I was puzzled by this, but I had always just forged ahead through difficulty, so I just told myself that I’d work through it. Little did I know I was actually hurting myself because my muscles weren’t strong enough to withstand that much practicing anymore. I quickly developed tendonitis in both arms and was forced to stop anything to do with piano. A few months later I had another episode of pericarditis and I had to stop everything I was doing. I couldn’t do anything active. I could barely sleep. I developed ulcers in my stomach because of the meds I was on. Worst of all I couldn’t even play piano anymore. After five minutes of playing my arms would hurt so much that I could barely move them. My life was shut down just like that. Everything, all my dreams were gone. Over the course of time I had over a dozen episodes of pericarditis. Every time I tried to get back on the “horse” and recover it was like starting from square one again. It just kept coming back every time I started to get somewhere.

I was forced to quit the job I Ioved, and took a job where I didn’t need to be active; making maps on a computer. John, my boss was awesome, and he treated me great. However, I thrive on being around others, and interacting with a computer eight hours a day depressed me. Everything was going downhill, and I didn’t have any sense of direction or purpose anymore. I was depressed and I was starting to give up on life. Despite all this, Lori, my piano teacher, was immensely supportive and understanding. Whenever I felt like giving up, my wonderful girl friend, Angela, inspired me to keep going.

One night, while feeling sorry for myself, I began to think, “You know what. At least I had all those experiences. I bet there are people out there who would love to experience all the cool things I have been a part of.” Suddenly, I realized how fortunate I was. I was appalled at myself for being so self absorbed and self centered. Sure, I couldn’t play like I used to, however, I still have my memories and I still have all the knowledge gained from years of training. I knew there are people out there who haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had and who desperately want to learn but cannot for various reasons. That’s when I decided I was going to continue sharing my talent in music through teaching. I was just going to enjoy and savor the feeling of contributing again. So began the video tutorials. The first one was recorded while still at a depressing moment in my life, but since then my life has slowly been turning out for the better and physically I am getting stronger every day. Typing actually hurts me the most out of everything. So responding to e-mails can be a bit painful. If I reply to nine or ten e-mails my arms might burn for a day or two after, but I still love reading all those messages! I love hearing the stories of how you are following your heart! It inspires me to keep going!

Now things are wonderful for me. I’m teaching piano full time and I have over thirty students. A piano studio is shared with two amazing and wonderful piano teachers, Maureen Nielsen and Dona McLuskie. My awesome teacher, Lori, is still working with me on getting my playing ability back to what it was. She sure has a lot of patience. Also, she is teaching me how to be a better teacher. I’m studying piano pedagogy with her. I have the best of the best teaching me how to teach piano. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without her; she’s like family to me.

My own family is also very supportive. My mom, Susan, my dad, Larry, my brother, Josh, and my future wife to be, Angela, are all such a big part of my life. They’ve helped me so much. Most of all though, I want to thank God for everything He has done for me. He has never let me down, and I’m so thankful for everything and everyone in my life!

I plan to keep going and keep teaching, expand this website, but also expand my own knowledge so that I can pass that on to all of you.



Andrew Furmanczyk :: howtoplaypiano.ca

_________________
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of other's cannot keep it from themselves."


Take care,

Andrew Furmanczyk :: http://www.howtoplaypiano.ca :: http://ca.youtube.com/user/lypur
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Admin Andrew
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Male Number of posts : 1277
Age : 30
Location : Prince George, British Columbia, Canada
Job/hobbies : Piano teacher, pianist
Length of time playing piano : Started in 1992; 17 years of playing.
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by pianohama on Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:06 am

Awesome story man... I wish you the best! You should exercise in a gym on a regular basis, it helped me get rid of lots of pain in my knees and arms Smile. GL
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Admin Andrew on Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:50 am

pianohama wrote:Awesome story man... I wish you the best! You should exercise in a gym on a regular basis, it helped me get rid of lots of pain in my knees and arms Smile. GL

I actually love the gym, I used to go 4 times a week for 1.5 hours each time. When i had the heart problem I couldn't do anything to raise my heart rate, even watching a suspenseful movie! So the gym was out of the question for awhile. Now I seem better so I've started working out at home again. ^_^

_________________
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of other's cannot keep it from themselves."


Take care,

Andrew Furmanczyk :: http://www.howtoplaypiano.ca :: http://ca.youtube.com/user/lypur
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Admin Andrew
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Male Number of posts : 1277
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Job/hobbies : Piano teacher, pianist
Length of time playing piano : Started in 1992; 17 years of playing.
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by justasound on Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:13 pm

Hi Andrew,I cry like a child reading your story first for sadness but especially for Joy.Now i can understand why your Piano lessons on youtube are so special.I like to thank you with all my heart for this "great purpose" that you had undertaken with all of us.I wish that you be well very soon and i hope that all this journey can give "special feeling" to tranfert at your listeners while playing at your loved piano.
If there were more "Andrew Furmanczyk" in the world, the world will be better.For me you are an angel of music.Thank You Very Happy
Sorry for my english Wink

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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by 07dwarves on Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:31 am

Well, reading your story was a better experience than many of the movies I have seen. I can only begin to imagine what a long roller coaster ride that must have been.

This forum is amazing. There is a community spirit for sure. I can not say that I will ever get to a level where I will ever play in public; mostly, I just play to an audience of many netherland dwarf rabbits, but it is a pleasure to rub shoulders with the many pianists who have hardcore skills.

I wish more of the serious newbies would post a blog and talk about what they are going through. I seem to be the only newbie that is like Grade Zero and has mastered "Happy Birthday" and is now moving on to "Joy To the World".

That is cool though. I do not mind.
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Maho on Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:48 pm

Gosh, great story... you really have a lot to tell to others, is wonderful that you had the strengh to say: Ok, here I am, and I'm gonna do my best!
It encourages me, really, to go for the things I want to get.
Thank you!
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Caitlyn Voice Major on Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:01 am

Andrew you rock! for cereal! Very Happy
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Pianokid220 on Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:19 pm

Wow
that all I can say
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by lunazul on Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:23 am

Very few people ever get to know their true purpose in life, those who realize it live a fuller, happier life, and by consequence spread that joy to those around them. Andrew is one of those lucky ones. I love you

I wish good things for you, but most importantly I wish you always be surrounded by love, Always sunny Sunshine man...
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Klavier on Wed May 13, 2009 4:45 pm

What an incredibly wonderful guy you are Andrew. You're incredibly inspiring as a piano teacher, a pianist and also as a human being. Bravo man!
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Rayman on Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:57 pm

Thanks for sharing the story of your life, Andrew. You told it very well and it gives me a better understanding of the pianist and teacher on the videos and the creator of this forum.

I hope your health issues gradually ease - it sounds as though you have been through a very testing period.

I think you have chosen a very admirable course in life - sharing your talent and knowledge in a selfless way.
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by aendym on Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:19 am

Amazing story, Andrew!

Of course I dont know you in "real life" but in your videos you always seem so full of joy and strength that one can only smile when watching them.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge, teaching me and making me smile at the same time!!!

Du bist super!
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by zyl0507 on Mon May 10, 2010 12:56 am

Andrew....wow. You've been through the hardest part of your life, I am so shocked when I read what you've been through and what you are battling against. You brought joy to thousands of people in the world...you really inspired me...you might not even realize the impact you brought onto me and many other people...you and your beautiful mind..Smile I will say a little prayer for you everyday, I believe one day you will be strong enough to achieve your dream.
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by Kelly on Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:26 pm

It's such a heart-touching life story. You've really listened to your heart when you decided to expand world-wide your piano skills, that makes me warmly satisfied to have found you on the internet.

Your pain description filled my eyes with tears, I held on to them, because you've shown to be an example of persistence and will, besides you deserve smiles and not tears. And what most enlightens you is the fact of thinking about other's even going through such a hard experience.

Thank you, Andrew. Smile
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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by bjm362 on Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:07 am

Wow !!! Thats quite a story !!!

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Re: Andrew Furmanczyk's Story

Post by jazzylady on Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:26 am

A wonderful insight of Andrew , Piano Teacher . thank you so much for sharing your background . and all the utube videos . WE can learn a lot by watching, listening .
Heartfelt thanks to you Andrew .

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