In the Summer of 1961, I began piano lessons with Miss Winter. She would come to be my second and last piano teacher. I left her tutelage at the age of 15. A nice older lady, never married, with a lot of patience. This is where I spent most of my time learning piano and musical theory. In the beginning all classical music from the greats. Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, etc. This is where I learned scales and all the theory of music. Endless scale playing became a norm in lessons and in practice.
She had recitals for her students, and afterwards, most of the time, a picnic in her backyard. It was always sloppy joe ( I still love to this day, Sloppy Joe) and potato chips that she served, with Cool-Aid of course!
She taught 6 or 7 kids. I think of them from time to time. I wonder if they went far with their music. Miss Winter introduced me to the Classics. Beethoven, Bach, Brahms and many others. She also sent me to the Western Michigan University to be adjudicated by the music professors. It was an all day affair, with children from all over the area in attendance. We would work on for weeks a piece of difficult music, Anitra’s Dance by Edvard Greig comes to mind. And Fur Elise by Beethoven. After I could play the piece flawlessly while reading the music, I would then memorize the music. Weeks of practice at home, while trying not to peek at the music. Practice took place right after school, and homework. I would then go before the judge, a professor at the university, and play my piece. Then the judge would hand me a piece of music that I have never seen before, and was asked to play it. I became very good at sight reading over the years I was with Miss Winter. I would always walk away from the judging with an excellent, or superior rating which pleased my parents very much. Mom wanted me to grow up to be a concert pianist. Sorry mom. That did not quite work out, but thank you for making me stick to the training and not quit.
Miss Winter also understood that us kids wanted more modern music. So then came the jazz and boogie woogie. Boogie Woogie was a close to Rock and Roll that Miss Winters would get. This step in my musical training steered me more towards Rock and Roll, and my music preference in later years. I know now that Miss Winter is long gone . If I could tell her something now, it would be thank you. Thank you Miss Winter for the gift you gave me that no one else can take away from me. I am forever grateful!