Monday, September 17, 2007

Thank you to Mrs. Morrison...

Mrs. Morrison was my Grade 4 teacher, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. I thought about this when I was rummaging through old music and came across my father's favourite, " Charmaine" and also a copy of Ketelbey's "Monastery Garden".

Who could resist Ketelbey, - that wonderfully showy music that gives young students heart that some day they will be able to WOW their audience. That and the "Flower Song" of crossed hands fame.

I was alone in the house, and I sat right down and indulged myself in a dramatic frenzy of arpeggio's, deep chords and bell notes, and it all came flowing back through my fingers as if I had played it yesterday, rather than fifty years ago! The birds trilled in the garden, and the Monks chanted the Kyrie Eleison and I marveled at the way fingers and brain (and probably neurons) worked together to bring such satisfaction. (I must look for the Persian Marketplace, and Husband reminds me of Nevin's Narcissus which he used to play with great dexterity)

I owe it all to Mrs. Morrison.

She it was who approached a piano teacher, recommending that I have piano lessons to "broaden my education". What a gift that a result my soon to be piano teacher, Mrs. Shillabeer, offered my parents the opportunity to send me to her for lessons each and every Tuesday, for the sum of fifty cents. Hard to believe in this day and age, but the combination of her generosity and the economic times of the Thirties made this a price that was just barely affordable.

Before Kathleen was married she taught from her studio, upstairs in her parents' house. You waited on a bench at the bottom of the stairs while she finished with the student before you, - either marveling at that student's proficiency, or feeling buoyed up if you felt you had your lesson up to scratch and wouldn't disappoint.

One of the really excruciating experiences was the semi annual Piano Recital.

I didn't mind the yearly exams so much, and by the time I was ready to compete in Music Festivals my confidence was a little steadier. But Piano Recitals, - ah, I shudder when I remember. Always dressed to the nines, with parents present, and the eternal fear that you would forget your notes and mess up your performance. Even the goodies that followed didn't compensate for the butterflies.

Until their deaths a few years ago Kathleen and her husband, Walter, were good and cherished friends. When they came to B.C. they visited the farm, and letters flowed between us sporadically.

I miss seeing Kathleen's writing on a Christmas card, or note, but I treasure the memories I have of her, as a teacher and a friend.

However, my most profound thanks must go to the teacher who saw the potential and acted out of kindness to bring music into my life. I have only a vague memory of what she looked like, but I am in awe of her perception. I never did get beyond the proficiency stage, but the many joys I have had, and the little bits of teaching I have been able to pass on, have made my life much richer.

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