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Teaching my first German students

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By Osa Amadi-Mbonu

The German Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Mr. K.P Waschmut was a good man, an extremely good man. Shortly after he arrived in Nigeria, he sent his driver to the music school of Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON Centre) to scout for a competent classical music piano teacher who would teach him and his family.

His driver met my friend, Solomon Akwudinma, secretary to the pioneer Director of MUSON Music School, Mr. James Adekunle. The driver had explained to Solomon that his master wanted a good piano teacher. Solomon asked him to leave his master’s residential address; that he would send him a good piano teacher.

The MUSON Centre was our rallying point in those days as piano teachers. Even though I was not permanently employed to teach at the Music School, I made it a point of duty to be there at least once a week. I used to prepare my private students for the graded music exams (both theory and practical) and then register them for the examinations which held at six-month intervals.

That week, when I came to MUSON, my friend Solomon gave me a piece of paper containing an address at Senari Daranijo, Victoria Island. Solomon had gathered from the driver that the man who needed the piano teacher was a white man, but the driver did not reveal the true identity of his master as the MD of Nestle.

I took the piece of paper containing the address and set out in search of Senari Daranijo. I located it behind the Zenith Bank head office, Ajose Adigun.

The luxury in the house told me instantly that I was in the home of a very rich man. The wife (whom I later came to understand to be one of the wisest women I had ever met) and the two children came out to watch me as Mr. Waschmut took me to his glittering upright piano. I inspected it as a medical doctor would inspect a patient who had come for a routine medical check-up. It was a splendid piece of an instrument and I told him so.

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“This piano is good,” I said softly, pulling out the stool and the wooden black panel covering the keys. I sat on the stool and started playing “Fur Elise” by Beethoven. The wife drew nearer her husband. When I looked up I saw mirth of smile on their faces. It was the magic effect “Fur Elise” always has on even the uninitiated in classical music. Just by watching and hearing me play that piece of music, the Wachsmuts became convinced they had gotten the type of teacher they needed.

Mr. Wachsmut and I sat down and negotiated my fee. It was year 2003 and my fee then generally was N3, 000 per hour. We began the lessons immediately. I spent 2 hours that day in the family – one hour for Mr. Wachsmut and one hour for Mrs. Wachsmut. Before I left the house, Mr. Wachsmut paid me N6, 000. He also gave me his call card.

When I saw his job title written on the card as MD/CEO of Nestle Nigeria Plc, I was stunned. How could such a young man be an MD of a multi-national conglomerate like Nestle? I should have charged him more if I had known, I told myself.

But I was very happy that I was taking something home after a long period of drought in my career as a piano teacher. My wife had a new baby and we needed every kobo we could get. Soon, other opportunities started coming. God never leaves a hardworking family man empty handed!

See you next week by God’s grace.

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