By Gayle Carnes
San Manuel Miner
He sat down at the piano bench.
His back was straight, his right foot on the pedal and his hands resting on the keys, his eyes fixed on the handwritten music in front of him.
Then the teenager began to play the music he had written last November when his family was facing COVID-19 and had found out his grandfather, Daniel Tineo of San Manuel, had a tumor on his pituitary gland – brain cancer.
The notes he wrote were inspired by The Sound of Silence (by Paul Simon). The melody was quiet, thoughtful and written from the heart and soul. It had a depth to it that most would not expect to find from a 14-year-old boy.
Isaac Tineo has studied piano with teacher Elaine Helzer of Oracle for seven years – half of his life – and told her he wanted to do something to help his tata. She suggested a concert as a fundraiser asking for donations, rather than selling tickets. Fellow student Annalupe Rodriquez, 17, who has studied with Helzer for 11 years said she would perform as well.
Dr. Stephen Cook, the founder and artistic director of the Oracle Piano Society and a concert pianist and piano teacher who has a Doctor of Music Arts degree from Arizona State University, recently had the opportunity to meet Isaac and to listen to the music he had written. Cook said he was “very impressed by the Isaac’s talent, drive and motivation” as well as his “potential and promise.” He added that Isaac plays very expressively and is the type of candidate that the Oracle Piano Society wants to help through its programs to encourage talent and will be sponsoring advanced lessons for him
Isaac said he had to be “forced” at first to take lessons, but after about two years he began to really like what he was doing.
“Playing gave me a challenge and then everything just took off,” he grinned.
After four or five years of lessons, he began playing the offertories at Living Word Chapel and now plays every Sunday for the service.
With a sparkle in his brown eyes, he said classical music is his favorite type of music to play, especially Beethoven, and that he plays nearly every day. But that he also enjoys building things with Legos and taking care of the family chickens.
When asked why he chose music, he replied, “I didn’t just want to do sports.” Eventually he would like to perform regularly and then maybe teach.
Helzer said she expects to see great things from him.
“I’m very proud of him and what he has accomplished and look forward to even bigger things from him. As he grows and understands more about life, the emotions will come out in his playing,” she said.
“He is a pleasure to work with. He is quiet, respectful; he listens and he is great to work with and he is great with his younger siblings,” she added.
A GoFundMe account has been established for Daniel, who needs the surgery as soon as possible. A goal of $55,000 has been set to cover the surgery, hospital and recovery costs.
Donations are being accepted, and more information is available at http://gf.me/u/zs6mm4. As of June 10, more than $7,000 had been donated.