Monte Wasch’s lifelong love of playing music began at the age of four and a half when he first sat down at a piano and pieced out the melody of the song Frere Jacques. His mother, impressed by her son’s ability, immediately brought him to the local piano teacher to begin lessons. Eventually, Monte started studying with his concert pianist neighbor and went on to attend the preparatory division of The Juilliard School for ten years. Up until his mid 20s, Monte earned money playing jazz piano at bars and other venues.
During Monte’s time at Juilliard, he learned his fingers were too short to play some of the more complex pieces concert pianists need to know. As a result, he switched his focus to playing jazz, and found that he had the ability to improvise. Monte found comfort in this newly found skill. Playing music, he says, “is the most creative thing I know how to do. There is something extremely personal about it to me.” Monte describes himself as a disciplined, organized person, but “When I’m playing jazz, my mind is in an entirely different place and I love that place.”
One of three children, Monte was raised by his mother in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “I grew up being taught that you give back. You put your body on the line. If you believe something you do it,” Monte explains. This belief has led Monte to work in the Civil Rights and Labor Movements. In the mid 60s, he was one of the founding members of Students for a Democratic Society and he worked for Martin Luther King Jr.’s organization for five years. He even served as the Assistant Transportation Coordinator for the March on Washington. Later in his life, he had careers in government, HR, and sales. Monte and his wife moved full time to New Lebanon in 2002. Since then, he has stayed busy by serving on town board, consulting, and, of course, playing music.