At the age of 3, Dean Schneider first gravitated toward the organ, due in large part to his grandmother who was an organist at church. However, once he saw the piano, he began to play almost immediately, starting his studies at age 5 and continuing throughout his time at Temple University.
During the course of his youth, Dean played at a multitude of places including jazz clubs in Philadelphia that even he was too young to enter without his mother or father present. For high school, he attended the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia and was part of the first four-year graduating class in 1982.
“It was a ground breaking school,” says Schneider. “Even the education curriculum teachers were great. It was an amazing experience.”
During his time at the school, Dean had the opportunity to play the Great Steinway piano at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia at age 14 – one of his most memorable performances.
From there, he studied Musical Education at Temple University while also playing around Philadelphia, New York City, and even coming to Atlantic City at age 19. His first experience in Cape May County was in 1995 at The Merion Inn in Cape May. Dean would substitute for George Mesterhazy and eventually took over when George passed away in 2011 after playing for the Inn for 16 years.
“Vicki asked me to play as many dates as possible to carry on George’s legacy,” he explains. Dean envied George and what he did at The Merion Inn. “I learned a lot from him,” explains Schneider. “He is greatly missed.”
During Schneider’s performances at The Merion Inn, his self-proclaimed, “home away from home,” he places an importance on people’s relaxation and rejuvenation while dining.
Besides performing, conducting, and arranging, he is also an adjunct professor at Rowan University for the Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz Studies and teaches two levels of Jazz Piano. In addition to Jazz music, Schneider enjoys to play the “GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK” which features popular songs from Hollywood and Broadway musicals of the 1920s to 1960s.
Catch Dean at The Merion Inn on most weekends and check out the restaurant’s website at http://www.merioninn.com/ to get the full weekly lineup.