Jazz Pianist Shares Black History and Music Lessons With Booker T. Washington Students

Ross Carnegie says playing music keeps him feeling young

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Students at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas got a music lesson from living legend Friday. Jazz pianist Ross Carnegie, 94, gave the students a music lesson wrapped in black history that he has lived.

“It’s so wonderful to play a wonderful piano,” Carnegie said, while sitting at a piano surrounded by students.

Jazz Pianist Ross Carnegie playing a piano at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas

Carnegie started to play the piano when he was 7 years old. Now, at 94, he said the piano keeps him feeling young.

“My hands feel like they are 25 years old,” Carnegie said. “I don’t get arthritis in them. They never get stiff.”

His musical journey as a jazz pianist has carried him many places: with his band on the stage at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Riverboat Club in the Empire State Building, an event hosted by famed talk show host Ed Sullivan, and Louis Armstrong’s last birthday party.

“He was so full of energy and entertaining the people well and then two or three weeks later he is gone,” Carnegie said.

Now, Carnegie said he is happy to share his passion with younger generations to let them know the keys to success.

Jazz Pianist Ross Carnegie playing with a student at Booker T. Washington High School

“They can do it if they make up their mind they are going to put in the time,” Carnegie said. “This is not handed to you. You got to work at it all the time.”

To this day Carnegie practices one or two hours a day. It’s all so he can continue to make himself happy through others.

“I like to see the joy my music brings to so many people,” Carnegie said. “It makes me feel very, very happy.”

Carnegie lives in New York and at 94 years old still teaches private lessons.

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