The Colville High School auditorium is empty, save for Gary Killings sitting at the Grand Piano in the center of the stage. He plays middle C, repeating the chord methodically as he adjusts the gleaming instrumentâ€™s music pins to achieve the perfect pitch.
â€śI once had a little girl stand next to me for over 30 minutes while I tuned her familyâ€™s piano,â€ť Killings recalls. â€śI was surprised that she just stood and watched me the whole time as I did just what Iâ€™m doing now. Then, finally, she looked at me and asked, â€śDonâ€™t you know any other songs?â€ť
Killings, an Onion Creek resident, is another one of Stevens Countyâ€™s hidden gems when it comes to the arts. You wonâ€™t see him showboating on Americaâ€™s Got Talent, but his musical mark is imprinted throughout Stevens County and even Ferry County. Besides traveling around the area tuning pianos for indiÂ¬viduals, churches and other organizations, you probably know someone who has taken or is taking music lessons from him.
â€śI like teaching,â€ť says Killings in his mellow, unruffled tone. â€śItâ€™s like going on a discovery with someone when they step into the world of learning a musical instrument. I have had students from ages five to 75 and itâ€™s always a treat to watch them get into it.â€ť
*Read the complete story, "Keeping in Tune" in the 11-30-2011 edition of the S-E.