Hi, I’m Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com. The question today is, Who Was Billy Joel’s Piano Teacher?
Billy Joel is an institution of American popular music, one of the great songwriters and one of the great popular piano players of the whole century! You might wonder where he learned how to play the piano. If you look on Wikipedia and other online resources, you’re going to discover a very interesting fact:
My father, Morton Estrin, is listed as Billy Joel’s piano teacher!
This is true. Billy Joel went to HIcksville HIgh School the same high school I went to 30 miles from New York City. However, Billy Joel is a bit older than me. So, our time in school never overlapped. In fact, even though he studied piano in the house where I lived, I never ran into him. Of course, it wouldn’t have meant anything since he wasn’t famous as a child!
Billy Joel’s Early Piano Studies
People would often ask my father, “What was Billy Joel like as a student?” And he would reply, “Well, he was a kid!” When you think about it, he was teaching Billy Joel student-level music such as Clementi sonatinas. His mother, like so many mothers back then made him study the piano. At the time, it probably wasn’t the most pivotal thing in Billy Joel’s life. It is very interesting that in more recent decades,
Billy Joel has been composing some substantial classical music.
I don’t know how much of his early musical training rubbed off or if his passion for classical composing is something that developed much later in his life. Through the years both Billy Joel and my father used each other in their bios for obvious reasons. However, I’m not sure how substantial the musical relationship was way back then, because Billy was only a child. Naturally, Billy went in a very different direction with his music.
My father was completely immersed in classical music.
That was his entire world. And of course, Billy Joel went on to become one of the great singer-songwriters of American popular music.
Visiting the House Where Billy Joel had his Piano Lessons.
So, that’s the long and short of it. I thought you’d be interested in that fact because people always ask me about it. It’s an interesting story. I have one small anecdotes you may find interesting. One of the times my sister and I were visiting my father in New York, we decided to go just a couple of miles away to the house in Hicksville where we grew up before we moved to another house in Hicksville. So, we went to the old Levitt house in the Levittown section of Hicksville, and there was the house where we were born! We’re sitting in front of it in the car looking at it thinking, “Do we dare knock on the door?” I don’t know if you’ve ever done anything like that. So, we decided to do it! We knocked on the door and introduced ourselves telling them, “We used to live in this house.” And before we could say one word, the woman living there said,
“Did you know that Billy Joel had his piano lessons right upstairs here?”
I said, “Yes, yes. We know that.” She was very proud of that fact. And so that’s the only anecdote I have to share about this. I wish I had more stories for you, but it is a fact that Billy Joel studied piano with my father, Morton Estrin.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this. Again, I am Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. See you next time.