Organ Wizard Set to Teach at Capital University This Fall

Tony Monaco is rapidly becoming Columbus’ newest Hammond B3 legend, following in the footsteps of two other Columbus B3 greats, Hank Marr and Don Patterson.(Photo: Steve Kyser)

You might not think you’ve ever heard the Hammond B3 organ, but trust me: you have. It’s got that unmistakable quake-in-your-boots Gospel organ sound. Think Blues Brothers. That’s it. You got it.

Tony Monaco is rapidly becoming Columbus’ newest Hammond B3 legend, following in the footsteps of two other Columbus B3 greats, Hank Marr and Don Patterson.

This fall, after a two-year whirlwind tour performing at some of the world’s hottest jazz festivals, Monaco is launching an undergraduate major in Hammond B3 organ playing at Capital University’s Conservatory of Music.

But back-to-school time won’t mark Monaco’s foray into teaching. He’s been teaching students around the world for years through his published instructional materials and in private lessons he offers online. Monaco has reached literally thousands of aspiring B3 players, including in places where the instrument is most popular: Germany, Italy, Japan and throughout the U.S.

Now he wants to teach students in Central Ohio how to become musical entrepreneurs on the Hammond B3. Business is something Monaco knows as well as he knows his keyboard. For decades he set aside his music career while working as a businessman in various industries (including in his family’s former restaurant, the now-defunct Monaco’s Palace). Once his children were grown, he went back to his passion and brought his business acumen with him. Sure, he’ll teach his students how to play (and I mean play) the B3 organ, but he also aims to show them how to sell themselves as performing musicians.

Monaco’s many recordings and non-stop touring schedule prove he’s got the musical talent and the business savvy to make it. But lest you think it’s all gone to his head, Monaco says his instrument keeps his ego in check: “I’m honored to be humbled by that instrument every day.”

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