My Piano Teacher
My mom had great hopes that one of her children would be able to play the piano adequately and I was her last best hope.
You know what happens with the youngest child, you're either too tired or become very crafty about how to get them to do what you want. With me she enticed me by offering either ballet or piano lessons with much more emphasis on the piano. It was all up to me of course. Then she would tell me ballet would benefit me only for so long BUT THE PIANO would be something I would appreciate my entire life. She was right but not necessarily the way she envisioned.
I started lessons when I was about 7 years old and it was apparent to both Mrs. Winsor and me that I wasn't a prodigy nor would I be very good. What I loved about the lessons was listening to her talk about her life in Europe before the war. She attended school in Paris and played concerts there. I couldn't get enough of her stories.
Once a week I would come after school and sit in her dining room until she finished with the pupil before me. Her Steinway grand piano had an embroidered spanish shawl draped over the back of it. It sat in the second story bay window of her house on Randolph Street in San Francisco. Mrs Winsor was always in a formal dress with a rhinestone brooch. She never got up from her chair due to hip trouble and could barely walk but she sat next to the piano bench and looked like a queen. Her hair was red and I'm sure "touched up" and her hands were very large and gnarled. I always loved it when she would demonstrate how to play something. It wasn't easy for her to move herself over to the piano bench but when she played...the piano shook and the house vibrated.
She wrote three books published by her husband and all three books were about death and reincarnation. She was "New Age" before anyone ever heard of the term. And of course this was what I would spend my lesson time talking to her about. She also gave me dandy tips on how to properly cleanse my face and how to use ice cubes to close my pores and make my cheeks rosy.
My mom would come to pick me up and park in front of the house where she could see me at the piano. Most of the time when I got in the car I would get a lecture that went something like "I don't pay $10 an hour for you to sit and talk during your lesson!"
I think I had to play in two of Mrs. Winsor's recitals before I figured out how to get out of them. The recitals were always in June so I would take a break from lessons starting in May and go back in the Fall. For some reason my mom never questioned this. She was just so glad I wanted to try the piano she put up with my excuses.
What I learned from those lessons was classical music makes my heart sing. I learned that elder women have fascinating stories to tell and much wisdom to share. I learned that death may not be the end.
The last time I saw her was probably 42 years ago. I don't know when she died or what her life was like as she grew old. I only know that she had a powerful impact on me and I still think about her with gratitude for all the gifts she gave me.
Sorry the scanned picture is so poor. It came from one of her books and my scanner isn't that great...or is it me? I'm about as talented with the scanner as I am at the piano.