Remembering my first piano teacher

Besides the Fourth of July being, well, the Fourth of July, it’s also the birthday of my first piano teacher.

I don’t remember how my parents found Mrs. W., but her chief selling point was that she came to the house for lessons!

Yep, her aging husband drove her down from their tiny, blink-and-you-miss-it community every week, rain, snow, or whatever. He’d park their rattle-trap car in the driveway and sleep while she went inside for a 30-minute lesson in scales and the Schaum method.

As a kid, I didn’t appreciate her. My sister and I groaned about having to practice every day, having to endure a weekly lesson, having to participate in twice yearly recitals.

Mrs. W. was old. Clad in a belted dress (never pants!) and sensible shoes, she wore her graying hair in a bun and kind of leaned over you as you were tinkling the ivories.

Her breath smelled like an old person, and she had long hairs sticking out from her chin. Her eyes were a watery shade of blue behind her glasses; she never wore makeup or cologne or fingernail polish.

She was plain.

And looking back, I’m not even sure if she played piano! I mean, try as we might, we never could entice her to play something for us “so we could hear what it was supposed to sound like.”

But her fees were reasonable (too low, actually), and she awarded us lots of stars and stickers — Flags, dogs, flowers. And somewhere along the way, I learned how to play piano and how much I love music.

Mrs. W. passed away several years ago, and it bothers me that I didn’t have a chance to really thank her. After all, she was patient and kind, punctual and modest, and she must have known something because my teachers who followed her indicated I had a “good grounding in the basics.”

So Mrs. W., wherever you are, Thank You and Happy Birthday!

4 thoughts on “Remembering my first piano teacher

  1. When I was in 7th grade, I got scolded for some misbehavior by Sister Joseph Marie, in which she told me, “YOU ARE A LEADER. The other girls will follow you.” Because I was innocent of the crime, and angry, and besides I was only 12 or so, I scoffed (inwardly of course – no sense inviting the paddle) at her remarks. It was only in middle age I realized she was right, and her identification of this fact gives me strength now. I wish I could have thanked her.

  2. Great memory, Lynne! You sound like my sister — she once irked one of the nuns so much that she got slapped across the cheek! Of course, my parents over-reacted and transferred BOTH of us to public school after that. I’m glad I had a parochial education at least through half of eighth grade, tho!

  3. Deb, Boy did this bring back some memories. My first piano teacher, Mrs Homan was a witch( I thought), very critical and demeaning withh her tight graying curls and expressionless face. I quit taking lessons at 13 much preferring to hang out with my friends or do anything but sit at her piano. 46 years later after visiting a dear friend in Missouri( she has two pianos which she plays daily and an organ in her Victorian sitting room), I bought a used upright and signed myself up for lessons which I am continuing today. Maybe Mrs Homan wasn’t really all that bad. Thanks again for another memory.


    • Isn’t it awful how mean we were as youngsters? Never stopping to think we’re stepping on toes, we crash through life running roughshod over other people’s delicate feelings. Guess that’s why they say youth is wasted on the young (or something to that effect!). Thanks for weighing in!

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