He taught piano for years out of the back room at Melody Music Centre. He wandered the downtown and throughout the mall, making friends with passersby and talking to anyone who would listen. He was easily recognized for his trademark fedora, wooden cane and Italian charm.
I first met Frank Cerbasi when I was just a girl. He would come to our house on a weekly basis and give lessons to my siblings and me. He developed the tradition of bringing donuts along with him, and we developed the habit of calling him “Grandpa” (I can’t promise the two are unrelated – we were kids, remember). He was patient and dedicated, evident in his common phrase: “Take your time, but hurry up.” Eventually I moved on to guitar and clarinet, but he remained my tutor for many years. Probably not at all once, but I’m fairly certain he gave lessons to all seven of us over the years … seven of dozens, if not hundreds, of students he taught in his long musical career in the city.
He died on Sunday evening. His landlord emailed me yesterday, calling him a “gentleman and a scholar” who will be missed by many. He didn’t have relatives close by, so his colleagues, students, friends and neighbours became his family – much like we did. He attended church on a regular basis as long as I knew him, always willing to testify of the goodness of God in his life.
Goodbye, Grandpa. Thanks for the music.