Piano playing pastor entertains and inspires with his music and life story

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When George Miladin started taking piano lessons at 6 years old, he had no idea he would one day be not only entertaining people, but nicknamed the “Piano Playing Pastor.” He lives up to that name to this day, enthralling people with ballads, classical pieces and jazzy arrangements.

The audience at the monthly senior luncheon at Del Cerro Baptist Church on May 16 was already familiar with his piano playing; he plays for the church’s Joymakers group each week.

When George Miladin started taking piano lessons at 6 years old, he had no idea he would one day be not only entertaining people, but nicknamed the “Piano Playing Pastor.” He lives up to that name to this day, enthralling people with ballads, classical pieces and jazzy arrangements.

The audience at the monthly senior luncheon at Del Cerro Baptist Church on May 16 was already familiar with his piano playing; he plays for the church’s Joymakers group each week.

He sat down at the piano and played Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” then Chopin’s “Polonaise in A Flat Major.”

People clapped and asked for more.

“You people are wonderful. I’m 82 years old and you still want me to keep playing. 

‘“But let me tell you some things about my life,” he said.

Taking piano lessons was his mother’s idea, he explained. By the time he was 12 years old, he was a virtuoso, playing the heavy classics. This part of his life is what Miladin called his first period of playing music.

But when he entered his teen years, Miladin became bored with a lot of things in his life, even playing the piano. He took up learning how to play the trumpet just for something different.  

Fortunately, when Miladin was 17 years old, he had a brief stint on “The Lawrence Welk Show” as a trumpet player. 

“Now everyone knows Welk was a good dancer. But I have absolutely no coordination,” Miladin told his audience at the senior luncheon.  

“One day at the studio, Welk was dancing with the famous Champagne Lady Roberta Lynn. As he went dancing around and approached me, he threw Lynn into my arms. 

“I did not know what to do, so I just threw her back into his arms.”

At that, everyone burst out laughing. 

After the Welk stint, Miladin went to Santa Monica Junior College, studying jazz piano with Sam Saxe of Hollywood. 

“Sam was the one who influenced me most and he introduced me to a multitude of pianists via recordings and transcriptions,” Miladin said.

During that time Miladin became the musical director for “Johnny Grant’s Overseas Shows.”

“I had the chance to work with all sorts of famous people, including Jane Russell,” Miladin said.

While later getting his BA from UCLA, Miladin became a Christian. “This is what I call the third period in my life,” he said.

He married his wife Londa in 1958 and obtained a master’s degree in music and a teaching credential, with which he taught music at junior high and high school levels. 

The Miladins moved with their two small children to St. Louis for his seminary training at Covenant Summary. That is where Miladin made his first album.

After graduation from seminary in 1965, Miladin began his pastoring career, moving in 1978 to pastor a church in San Diego.

In the early days, the church met at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Point Loma. 

“I knocked on just about every door in the vast neighborhood inviting people to come and see what we were offering,” Miladin said.

The church ended up purchasing the ice skating rink known as the House of Ice in La Mesa. Today it is the New Life Presbyterian Church where Miladin pastored from 1978 until 2000. He taught many interns, including that church’s current pastor, Brian Tallman. These days, Miladin still pastors here and there.

“Officially, I pastor nowhere. Unofficially, I pastor everywhere,” he said, adding that he particularly enjoyed teaching and preaching on the Gospel of John and the book of Hebrews as well as Romans.

He continues to play piano when and where he can, which is often, as people enjoy his personal style.

“As much as possible I try to play as tastily as possible, avoiding the ‘flashy’ which calls attention to me.

“And now I’ll treat everyone here to my signature piece, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Miladin said.

To order a copy of his CD “Inspiration” and for more information about George Miladin, go to his website at www.pianotips4u.com or email him at liberatedpianist@gmail.com.

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