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I was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota on June 11, 1941.  When I was about seven, my parents bought a piano.  Without taking lessons, I was able to play by what people called “playing by ear.”  However, this was not what was taking place.

I was born with an eye disorder called myoptic degeneration. It created a “waffle” effect which resulted in visual images moving in and out of focus depending on which eye saw the images.  When musical scores were viewed, the notes appeared to be moving: therefore, the same note could appear on a line or space.

At ten, I began taking piano lessons from Helen Olson, a well known musician and piano teacher.  While practicing, I would see the notes inaccurately because of my faulty vision.  When I played what I had memorized for my teacher, wrong notes would be played.  If this were not enough to create confusion and frustration, my talent of being able to play without notes made it tempting to play with ease while practicing rather than struggling to read the note in my piano book.

At times I would take complicated scores my my aunt Phev Mortenson”s library and pretend to be playing them.  The selections With many sixteenth notes I pretended to play.  The method of piano playing and having the pratice will my friends were outside having fun, soon hindered my growth as a piano student. By the time I was twelve, this phase of my piano career ended.

I listened to my aunt Phev’s collection of classical recordings, and before long I had listened to the entire collection.  After being inspired by those recordings,, I purchased my own hi-fi record player and joined the Columbia Record Club.  I would listen to a recording each night as I went to sleep.

Singing was another matter.  With an ear for musical sounds, I did not have to read the notes.  Once I heard the notes played, I could pick out my part.  I sang in the children andyouth choirs in my church and during junior and high school, I sang in chorses under the direction of Robert Myers.  I looked to Mr. Myers as someone to model.  I desired to be a concert pianist or choral director, but I knew I had too many limitations reading musical scores.

After graduating from Albert Lea High School in 1959, I had planned to attend St. Olaf College.  With a name like Christiansen, I might have fit in with the well known music traditions of the Christiansen’s at St. Olaf; however, I was enouraged by Phil Pagel to attend Dana College.  As it turnind out, Dana was a good place for me.  I was especially encouraged by Miss McCullough, Miss Mac as she was known.  While at Dana, I majored in music and history with intentions of being a music teacher.  I sang in the college choir and took piano lessons.  I did grow somewhat during three and one half years of piano instruction, unfortunately my visual handicap and musical talents were ignored or never preceived by my music teachers.

In spirt of these limitations, I hold degrees of B.S., M.S. And Ph.D. And became a school teacher and adminstrator, university professor and businessman.



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