Picture: The “Nadia Boulanger” of Wakefield and young student Holly on Recital Night
Coming from a family of musicians and theater people it was just an accepted way of life to grow up having music lessons. In my childhood circle of friends in the inner city, I was however the only one I knew who was doing that. Even later when moving upstate to a small community and attending high school and college, I was the only one in my neighborhood to be studying music and for sure I never thought for a moment that music would be my career, going off to college to be an English/Literature Major instead.
Life and its mysterious and surprising turn of events. Having relocated as a young adult to the coast after marriage, I found, 10 years later, that I was in an urgent crisis situation to suddenly maintain myself and my two children as a single parent. I had gone back to school to now study music (piano major) at the local University as a “SOTA” (Student Older Than Average) though I was really quite young. The unexpected turn of personal life events cut that short and I needed in a HURRY to create work right then and there for immediate survival.
What “then and there” manifested was to offer myself as an independent piano teacher at a local private Catholic school with a very tight budget. I would contract directly with parents who wanted their children to have piano lessons, teach the children right at school, the school didn’t have to pay me because the parents did..but they could proudly announce “Piano Lessons” as a special, in their publicity brochures. A win-win-for all.
Certification at that time in a small parochial school was not a necessity. I knew I knew enough to teach beginning children piano and music. But I wanted to be a GOOD teacher, A GREAT TEACHER! The BEST TEACHER I could be in that time and place even though I had not been able to finish the music education program and certification at the University.
I had heard about great teachers who had influenced students to become the very best at what they were studying. I grew up in a family that celebrated the arts, literature, music and dance. I had had several teachers who had guided and mentored me with love and care and I wanted to follow their modeling. I had heard about “Nadia Boulanger”, a famous and beloved French piano teacher and composer who inspired so many creative musicians over the course of her lifetime (born Sept. 16, 1887, Paris, France—died Oct. 22, 1979, Paris) leaving a wonderful legacy behind her. I made a decision right then and there. My standards were very high, even if I had not yet finished the credentials necessary and valued by academic standards.
I decided in my heart to become the “Nadia Boulanger of Wakefield”!
Over the 26 years of teaching in that little school, I mentored and taught so many students and often their parents as well in music and piano studies. I drove to the homes of many public school kids as well after the school day. At the end of the year there always was “The Recital” …actually two night of recital to allow all of my students to play their masterpieces that spanned a 10-note performance of ” The Yo-Yo” to a top speed Bach “Solfegiett0” (by a brilliant student who eventually became a Rhodes Scholar) to an impressive teacher/student duet of any number of Dvorak’s Slavic Dances for piano four-hands.
I no longer teach music in the classroom, but in the studio one-on-one only. I do teach/lecture in the classroom at the University periodically in a totally different field of creativity.
But always still, my hope is for excellence..for sharing and hopefully inspiring the minds and creativity of my students. The Nadia of Boulanger of Wakefield.
The Encyclopedia Brittanica writes of the ORIGINAL Nadia Boulanger:
“Her influence as a teacher was always personal rather than pedantic: she refused to write a textbook of theory. Her aim was to enlarge the student’s aesthetic comprehensions while developing individual gifts”.
My kind of girl, that Nadia!
From Christine, The Piano Mistress