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Memphis Grizzlies play piano at Amro Music

John Olsen looks on as Mike Conley get acquainted with his piano.
John Olsen looks on as Mike Conley get acquainted with his piano.

It's well known that the Memphis Grizzlies players provide entertainment for thousands of fans each year.  Perhaps less known is how community-driven the players on the team are, according to Teresa Dickerson, who serves as the team's Director of Community Investment.  For example, the Grizzlies held a Grizz Gala silent auction in January to raise funds for Memphis Grizzlies House at St. Jude Hospital.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley concentrates on the notes.
Photo by John Mathis Photography

One of the items auctioned was a scholarship for piano lessons at the Recreational Music Making lab at Amro Music on Poplar.  Amro also acts as a sponsor for the Grizzline drummers, a percussionist group that performs at the Grizzlies' half-time shows.  The winning bidder of the piano lessons was John Olsen and as the winner he won the right to get to take some lessons with point guard Mike Conley and small forward Sam Young.  Both Conley and Young already have an active interest in playing the piano and do so when they have free time.

This night, Conley joined six other students, including Olsen, at Amro Music in learning the piano.  The lesson lasted a little over an hour.  Recreational Music Making, from Amro's perspective is all about learning to play the piano in a relaxing manner as a means of stress relief and relaxation.  It is also about having fun while learning.  Classes are intentionally kept short and are held weekly.  Jason Bell was the instructor this night and led the small class in learning the keys while having fun.

An Indiana native, Conley also donates his time sitting on a committee at Methodist LeBonheur to provide awareness of sickle cell disease according to Keri Stoller, who work under Dickerson as the Manager of Community Investment.  Stoller also went on to say that all of the Grizzlies players are proud to be a part of the Memphis community and want to give something of themselves back to the fans.  Stoller herself is a recent transplant from Oregon and seems to understand how the players feel about coming to the Mid-South.

As for Conley, who just came back from Indiana a couple of days ago, he said he enjoyed his lessons.  "This experience really motivates me to practice at playing the piano more," he said, while running his fingers across a Steinway grand piano in the showroom.  He flashed a quick smile, "Maybe some day I can buy one of these and play it," he said, referring to the Steinway.

Heather Cantrell, Amro's Public Relations guru and the coordinator of this event was very pleased.  "I really hope this will motivate area youth to play the piano or some other musical instrument," she said, gesturing at Conley, who was now busy with another interview.  "I believe if they look at famous athletes like Mike (Conley) and see them playing the piano, that they will see music as a way to better themselves and enrich their lives".

For more information, contact Heather Cantrell at 901-302-3343 or visit www.amromusic.com.

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