Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Practice, Pam

My feet didn't touch the floor. They hung over the edge of the piano bench. Next to me sat my piano teacher Dortha Hunt. It was the same every Saturday. The Loxley girls came to call at her house with the glassed in porch in Greenville. In the summer we sat on the porch waiting for our lessons. During the colder weather, we sat in the hall watching the student ahead of us. Lessons that were a dollar.

I hardly remember the time before piano lessons. I was seven when I started taking from Dortha, continuing for seven more years. First the right hand exercises. Next the left hand. Then, on to big time with both hands. I really didn't like piano lessons. And.....Dortha always knew I hadn't practiced.

The best part of music lessons was afterwards when we stopped for a hamburger, a shake and French fries at the little Hamburger Shop. It was compensation, I'm sure, for making us take lessons. But there was no compensation to when Mom made me take organ lessons. Sure I could play it, but I didn't want to. If I had to have an instrument, mine was piano. I think Mom always thought one of us would play for church. None of her three daughters went on to play the organ in church.

Dortha and I met a couple of times after I was all grown up. I know I was just one of many students who passed through her door. I think perhaps she remembered me because I was such a challenge. I never memorized music for recitals. I never practiced for my lesson. She ran me through the drills telling me the same thing each week. "Practice, Pam." What she didn't know was that she did teach me. She taught me the skills that I used in later years to be a better pianist. I challenged myself with music that was difficult. I bought a piano because I would be lost without one. I taught Carla and Nick a bit of piano when I was in high school, and have gone on to teach my granddaughters. Dortha, you gave me a gift that I cherish. I may not have practiced the music before me, but it has followed me my entire life.

Dortha recently passed. But my memories of sitting on the piano bench next to her will stay with me forever.

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