MEJ Masthead

Monday Moment: Thank you for the music

Emma Grey

My old piano teacher died last week.

I began piano lessons with Miss Thompson in 1979, and was terrified of her from Day One. I loved music, just not the way she taught it, and I think she found my ‘non-purist’ mentality infuriating. She had exceptionally high expectations for her students, and I did not meet them.

One day, I walked in for my lesson, which came straight after my younger sister’s, and Sarah was sitting backwards on the piano stool with her arms crossed, on strike. Suffice to say we were not her favourite students.

By Year Seven, she had me in her musicianship theory class, which was basically an exercise in developing my first proper crush on one of the boys and learning how to flirt. Every week, I’d copy the theory homework from one of the more studious and musically-capable students in the waiting room at the back of her house. The highlight was that the class was on a Monday afternoon, and mum always filled in the time at the local shops and bought TV Week, so I’d look forward to reading that in the car on the way home to catch up on the goss about Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan (another crushee) on Neighbours and Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien (another one) on Flying Doctors

Sometimes you don’t know what a person has given you until many years later. You don’t figure out their role and influence in your life until it’s too late to communicate it.

Beside me in that music theory class was another student. One whose homework I copied (with her permission). One who DID love the music the way Miss Thompson hoped. Someone with a pure heart for it. Someone who did NOT have a crush on any of the boys. Or waste any time where music was concerned.

This was a person who met Miss Thompson’s exceptionally high standards, then blew them out of the water. Someone who was pushed further and higher than all of her peers, willingly, because she had drive for it, and a love for it in every cell of her being.

This week at Miss Thompson’s funeral, I’ll say, ‘thank you’ to a brilliant piano teacher, without whom the Unrequited musical would not exist.

I wonder what would she make of her star student, Sally (who denies this title, but I think I speak on behalf of most of her other students when I say it!) and one of the ones who inspired her to tear her hair out teaming up to write something exceptionally pure and musically-brilliant … and also worthy of TV Week …

Is there a teacher you could thank this week, while you still have the chance?

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son.

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