By James J. Bell, Paganelli Law Group, 2018 IndyBar President
True or false: I’m an expert pianist.
Of course, the answer is false.
If the answer had been “true,” here is how you would’ve known I played the piano: I would’ve told you.
And after I told you, I would’ve shown you by playing the piano for you over, over and over again. My piano playing habit would’ve been so annoying that on a cold day in downtown Indianapolis, you wouldn’t have dared to cut through a hotel lobby on your way to court for fear that you would’ve heard my tickling of the ivories and making a loud request for a “Tiny Dancer” to hold me closer or a “Desperado” to come to his senses.
How am I so certain that I would be so quick to show off talents I don’t even have? Not sure. Some may theorize that it stems from immaturity. But to those people I say, “I know you are, but what am I?”
But for all the folks who seek attention and often get recognition for it, there are others like the woman who sat down at a piano bench last weekend in front of hundreds of churchgoers, opened her sheet music and then played the piano flawlessly. When the song was completed, she then quietly picked up her music, walked away from the piano and the sermon began. Her name was never mentioned during the service.
That pianist was my wife and many people commented to me after the service about how good she was and how they had no idea that Anne even played the piano. Not only did these folks not know that she could play the piano and play it well, they didn’t know that she majored in music as an undergrad, could play the theme to the “Peanuts” Christmas Special and a famous piece from some guy named Show-pan. (At least that’s what I think she called it.) They didn’t know she has a Ph.D. in education and once ran a marathon eight months after having her third child. Most importantly, they didn’t know that she could do a dance called “The Floss” and a dance called “The Hype.” (So I told them all about it.)
And why did these people not know these things? Because what Anne does is not fueled by the desire for recognition. She doesn’t feel the need to show off her talents and hence, every hotel lobby she has ever been in has been a giant waste of music school tuition.
As long as I’ve known Anne, she has been an accompanist and she is fine with that role. When it comes to music, she has thousands of hours of training and loads of ability to show for it. But what she frequently did in college was rehearse with a vocalist and then train that singer to be on cue, on beat and on pitch. Then, when the recital came around the vocalist would shine, receive a standing ovation and then point to Anne for one second of applause. Then the vocalist would direct the ovation back to herself. It was just how music school operated, and Anne never complained. But the truth is, even if they would never say it, accompanists would appreciate getting a little credit, even if it is not what motivates them.
At the IndyBar, we have hundreds of volunteers who serve our members, promote justice and enhance the legal profession on a daily basis and rarely get a thank you worthy of their efforts. They are the IndyBar’s accompanists and their service is fueled by serving others and not by the desire to receive an award.
Nevertheless, the IndyBar will seek to recognize at least some of these accompanists on November 13 at 8:30 a.m. at Meridian Hills Country Club at the Recognition Breakfast. In no particular order, these accompanists include Josh Brown, Rebecca Geyer, Mike Bishop, Benjamin Spandau, Bryan Stoffel, Holly and Patrick Wanzer, Erin Clancy, Kevin Bowen, J.T. Funk, Adrianne Slash, Andrew Mallon, Billie Breaux, Bryce Carpenter, the Honorable Judge Cale Bradford, Cordelia Lewis Burks, Jennifer Thuma, Mike Gaerte, Katie Jackson, Lacy Johnson, Lee Christie, the Honorable Justice Mark Massa, Susan Cline, Christine Hickey, Adrienne Pope and Justin Allen. Finally, representatives from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law will accept the Dr. John Morton Finney Jr. Award for Excellence in Legal Education on behalf of the late Professor Lawrence A. Jegen III, who taught generations of lawyers in our community.
We hope to see you there. You can RSVP at indybar.org/recognition.