Friday, December 21, 2018

Remembering a childhood piano teacher


Back in1995, a friend and mentor from my youth departed this orb. She was my piano teacher for some twelve years. I had previously had the opportunity to visit with her, three decades after leaving her tutelage, when we reminisced about old times and former relationships.
Upon her death, I penned these words, recently retrieved from an old storage box in the garage. Her family tells me the words played a role in her funeral celebration, for which I was and remain very grateful.

                                                   In Memoriam

                                              For Eleanor Beatty

Creator God, we giver you thanks for the
Life and spirit of Eleanor Beatty.
Her elegant mind and sensibility were both
Calming and inspiring;
Her steady, measured dependability would
Infrequently give way to her absolute
delight in the absurdity of human foolishness..
because although she kept the necessary
correctnesses,
she never lost sight of the more important
counterpoint of mystery.
To the uninitiated, she may have appeared
The epitome of order and balance..
But thot hose of us privileged to really
Know her,
From the hours of waiting for the
Adjudicator’s bell in the festivals,
Or the hours of travel in her old Buick,
Or the focussed but often whimsical
Conversations about forum, history or
Harmony…
We all knew that the form and order
Of the musical scores were, to her,
The songs of the souls crying for
Connection…
And that is the gift for which we give thanks…
That this unmarried daughter, sister, aunt,
Teacher and friend
Could always see beneath and behind the
Vagaries of the moment, the pains of the
Seasons and the days to the more distant,
Eternal and universal horizon of
Sunrise and sunset…
And accompany us beyond the keyboard;
She was and is for me the
Muse and magician behind the rehearsals,
Far from centrestage,
A spiritual guide to the composers,
Their lives and their work.
A friend who truly understood the
Unimportance of marks and grades
But the immeasureable significance of the
Beat of the metronome,
Connecting each second to the beginning
and end of time…
this is, was and alwuyas shall be my
eschatological soulmate..
whose recitals taught me the difference
between art and ego,
whose coaching taught me the difference
between life as performance and
the business of living,
whose surrogate parenting gave me
the daily and weekly measure of
tranquility and cosmic predictability
I needed
In what seemed the turbulent
‘big sound’ of my heart.
I thank God for every note, and every
Stroke of the metronome
We shared
And each infrequent but poignant
Disappointment…
Because she helped me to learn
That life, although often messy,
Is never without the melody of a
Shubert impromptu, of a Bach
Prelude, or a Beethoven cascade…
And she mastered the instrument of my
Heart and mind…opening them to the
Wonders of the creative genius of
The songs without words
That even Mendelssohn would thank her
For keeping alive..
And not mine alone…
         But the hearts and minds of
Hundreds of other young people whose
Tour through musical antiquity
Would not have been so colourful
Or memorable without
“Elfie’s” accompaniment.
                                                                                      December 10, 1995

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