Friday, August 11, 2017

     

     For the next couple of weeks, I have decided to write letters on this blog. I will not necessarily send any of these letters, but I will write them and keep them for posterity. Are you a letter writer? Most people aren’t. The whole concept of receiving a hand-written letter went out long before CDs went extinct, but every so often, it’s a treat to receive an actual letter from someone you care about. 

     I began writing letters a month or so ago. I decided to write a letter to each of my grand-daughters. I asked my daughter to have whoever received the letter to read it to the other three. Whether this ever happened is doubtful, but supposedly, they enjoyed hearing from me. I’m just grateful they remember who I am. In each letter, I included a photo of me and Mr. Wonderful to ensure they would remember our faces. They love him. We are bundled.

     Today’s letter is to my piano teacher, Margaret Anderson, RIP, 1980ish.

     Dear Mrs. Anderson:

      I was one of your students from the age of 12 through the age of 17 and then again for couple of years in my early 20s. You were the person who inspired me, encouraged me, criticized me and loved me. I will never forget you and the gift you helped me nurture. I remember your soft side. This was the side that taught me how to be a lady, how to treat my man, how to set a table, how to understand how the composer’s life story affected how he wanted the music played. Yes, you taught me much more than notes and fingering. For all of this, I am so grateful, and one regret I have in my life is that I never wrote you this letter to thank you. I told others about what an amazing woman you were, but I didn’t take the time to tell you before it was too late.

      You never had children of your own, so your students were your children. We all feared you, respected you and loved you, especially those of us who were serious about our music. The concert you helped me to prepare for my senior year in high school was a special moment in my life—-one which I will treasure always. With 200 of my friends and family in the audience, I was so nervous and excited. When the applause came at the end, a bouquet of roses in my arms brought up by my boyfriend, I had a big lump in my throat. At age 17, it was an achievement of which I was so very proud. Those 4-6 hours a day I practiced before and after school paid off. The sacrifice of my Senior Trip was worth it when I took my bow in my pretty puffy formal on stage. So many lessons, dear teacher. You taught me that hard work and sacrifice pays off. You taught me that I can’t cheat by trying to ignore the hard notes or play the piece my way instead of how it’s written. You taught me that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. CAN’T didn’t exist in your world. (You told me about Emmanuel Kant to illustrate this.) You taught me that getting sunburn at prom wasn’t going to look attractive on stage in my strapless dress. 

     There was the tough side to you too that all your students knew, and that is why we feared and respected you. You accused me of not practicing when I was working six hours a day. You told me I shouldn’t be dating while I was preparing for my recital. You told me that sloppy practice was going to result in sloppy performance. You also told me that if I really wanted to be a concert pianist that I would have a life locked in a practice room with no husband, family or fun. Thank you for saving me from that life. I never would have made it. As it turned out, I was able to use my music as an avocation way beyond retirement.

     I am proud to tell you that I am now performing one-woman shows in my 70s! Yes. I have performed three shows:  Chopin, Debussy, Gershwin, and soon Rachmaninov. I tell the composer’s story through the eyes of his lover, and I play his music. I think you would be beaming if you were in my audience. Maybe you are. 

     Thank you again, Mrs. A., for all the wisdom you provided, for the excellent technique you taught and for lighting the spark inside me that has given me great joy and success in ways I never imagined. 

                       With gratitude and love,

Sandy (Bloomquist, Boak, Moulin)