Keeping Life in Tune

9 years 8 months 2 days ago January 22, 2007 Jan 22, 2007 Monday, January 22 2007 Monday, January 22, 2007 5:25:58 PM CST in News

"My mom said anyone who hated practicing piano as much as I did would probably end up doing it as his lifework."

Frank Hennessy started at the bottom and worked his way up. His life includes a series of adjustments. He doesn't just tune and sell pianos, but introduces them as if they were family.

"I was a high school band director at 18 years old," he noted.

He graduated from the University of Dayton in just 6 semesters, ranked 5th in his class. Hennessy studied the wood, iron and felt that goes into pianos in factories in Germany and Poland. The pianos he restores sound beautiful. But there's something about his attitude that resonates even more.

"Stuttering is a big obstacle. A lot of people assume if you don't talk well, you're stupid," Hennessy explained. "I went and applied for a private teaching job at Tower Music in Dayton. Good store. They didn't hire me because they were afraid the parents would mind because I stuttered."

Decades later, Hennessy has two words for the man who refused to hire him.

"Thank you."

He opened his store more than 30 years ago. Customers have been willing to wait nearly a decade for him to refurbish their pianos because his restoration work is so revered.

"You have two choices. You can go hide in a corner or you can go about your life. This is part of my life," he said. "Get up and open your mouth. However it comes out, it comes out."

You adjust when you start at the bottom. Perhaps that's the key to working your way up.

"It's hard work," he added.

Frank Hennessy had open-heart surgery at the age of 39 and moved to Columbia in part to escape a hectic lifestyle. As he lay in his hospital bed, he asked himself, "Am I doing what I want to be doing?" His answer was, "Yes, I am."

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