86-year-old piano teacher continues to receive tokens of appreciation from students

Updated: Jan. 2, 2019 at 8:57 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Jerry Crews started playing around with music at a young age.

“So, I’d get a bunch of old bottles and fill them up with water and I would start beating on them. And my mother would ask me why I was doing that and I said, ‘I just like the sound,’” Crews said.

Crews started playing the piano in the third grade. As he grew older, so did his passion for music.

“Majored in piano, pedagogy, and also was majoring in voice to teach music in school,” Crews said.

It wasn’t long before Crews began teaching piano.

“Learn their fingers, and stuff like that, and the notes on the keyboard, and the little pieces. And they seem to be so gratified in playing three notes and naming the notes,” Crews said.

Stefanie Ughovwa said Crews has been a positive influence on her family.

"My father-in-law relocated from Nigeria and sure enough, he became one of the students for Mr. Crews, and became one of his good friends,” Ughovwa said. “I have three children. He’s taught all of them.”

In 1961, Crews acquired his first piece of a Kuolt Nativity scene. With it, his students found a way to show their appreciation for him.

“A good friend of mine whose children I was teaching, bought the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another lady bought the child Jesus and then the Saint Joseph,” Crews said.

Ughovwa said she not surprised by the outpouring of love he receives.

“He meets each student at their level and he just brings the best out of that student where they are. And I’ve seen it with all three of my children,” Ughovwa said.

As his collection grew, he kept a list of who and when he received each figurine.

“This is just a small small token of appreciation for them having contributed to it,” Crews said.

Though he is unable to play large compositions because of his arthritis, Crews still finds joy in sharing his adoration for the piano with others.

He said he will teach piano as long as he can and hopes to continue to be a positive influence on his students.

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