When Manchester Community Music School Board Member, Stephen Clayman’s mother, Rita, passed away in June of
2012, he was determined to create a living memorial to her through music. This year, Steve and his two older brothers, David and Andrew, established the Rita Clayman Piano Education Scholarship Fund at the Music School to provide a full year of private piano instruction for one student each year over the next decade. The student will be chosen based on his or her dedication to piano studies, talent and financial need.
This generous gift to the Music School is particularly meaningful to Steve. He and his mother shared a love of music, more specifically the piano, and they each came back to it seriously, beyond their youth. Rita played the piano as a young girl, but the Vose piano her father had given to her stood quietly in the family living room as Steve and his brothers grew up. It wasn’t until she retired in her seventies that Rita began to play again. “The sound board on the piano was completely cracked,” says Steve. “She had the entire piano re-built, and when I heard her play, I couldn’t believe her skill level.”
After dabbling with the keyboard in high-school rock bands, Steve took up piano lessons at the Music School in his fifties, and purchasing the same kind of piano his mother owned, both of which delighted her. “Every time I talked with my mom in the last few years of her life, she always asked me how the piano was going. She also got quite a kick out of the fact that I and my wife Paula, who is a clarinet player and takes lessons at the school as well, would play duets together,” Steve recalls. “I still feel a connection with her when I play.”
It was this connection, Rita’s passion for the piano and classical music, as well as the student transformations he’s witnessed in his role on the board that gave Steve the idea to establish the scholarship fund honoring his mother. It is his hope that he and his brothers will be able to get together each year for the school’s Honors Recital, at which this student will perform. “This is a wonderful way to donate to an organization and create an enduring memorial that will change the lives of the students who benefit from the fund and will also offer our family a way to come together,” Steve says. “And Mom would just love this. She’d be absolutely thrilled.”