Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thank You, Mrs. Lutz

Somebody asked me about my childhood piano teacher today and I told her that she was neither mean nor particularly inspired. Mostly I remembered the bowl of candy in her waiting room, a real treat since I was forbidden candy at my house. I used to stuff my pockets and then pretend to cough during the lesson while popping some in my mouth.

But today I wondered whether I had properly thanked Mrs. Lutz for helping move me in the direction of music. On Sunday, I sang for over an hour with kids from 1 to 9 years old, who were there with their parents who just happened to be SF School alumni students mostly in their early 40’s. And with them were some of their parents, my friends and colleagues. Three generations enjoying an hour of pure happiness, with an extra layer of heartfelt nostalgia for songs we all used to sing together way back then. 

From Tuesday through Friday, I sang with the elementary kids each day for 20 minutes, as I have done during all my long years at school. Mostly some of the fun songs we hadn’t sung this year, so there was a great spirit at each Singing Time. On Thursday, a fabulous Preschool Singing Time weaving songs into the story of Rumpelstiltskin. On Friday, my weekly visit to the Jewish Home for the Aged (where I learned that one of the regular participants, Doris, has just passed away—at 111 years old!). The music began with me playing Bach on the piano, continued to a touch of Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart, on to Scott Joplin, and then segued to some jazz accompanied my singer friend, Laura Rupert and ending with some songs from the Mikado. Well, almost ending. One of the women asked if I could play a Yiddish song and she sang along to Raisins and Almonds.

That night, I went to my sister’s solo dance concert celebrating 50 years as a modern dancer. She also took piano lessons with Mrs. Lutz and her musical dance interpretation of The Goldberg Variations showed that foundation.

Today, Saturday, I played at another Senior Center where I began playing a Strauss waltz and suddenly, one of the women perked up and sang along with the melody! And so went another hour of happiness undimmed by the harsh realities of the world, cradled in the timeless loving hands of music where everything makes sense. Then a short rehearsal at my house with jazz trumpeter Scott Jensen and guitarist Kai Lyons and some 2 hours of exciting jazz played this evening at a house concert (including a guest appearance by Laura). 

And that was my week. One group of 1 to 79-year-olds, another of 3-5 year-olds, another of 6-10 year olds, two groups of 80 to 100 year-olds, another group of 30 to 50 year olds. Oh, and rehearsals with 11-14 year-olds for the Spring Concert next week. Folk songs, stories, classical piano pieces, light opera, jazz of many styles. The Warriors have millions watching and cheering when they share their life’s discipline of basketball and here I am with anywhere from 15 to 100 people at a time and no one’s watching. But I know that the way I get to use my life’s discipline brings great joy and happiness one small group at a time. 

And for that, I thank Mrs. Lutz.

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