Column: Musical memories of learning an instrument

Carol Forster shares her musical memories
Carol Forster shares her musical memories

I’ll never forget my early music teachers.

After all, they gave me something very precious – the gift of playing music and being part of that world.

However, the teacher I recall most strongly was the one with pianoforte expertise - an elderly lady, or so it seemed as a five year old. Miss P was very strict.

She liked to rap your knuckles with a ruler if you played a wrong note. I recall sitting there trying my best not to make any mistakes yet outside, her garden was lush and tranquil, as peered at through large bay windows.

A metronome ticked time in the background, as did a large grandfather clock out in the ancient dark hall. She looked 150 but was perhaps somewhat younger, and seemed to come from another era. She did.

Everything about her suggested Victorian ideals.

She was of the opinion that children should learn through fear, quite a common thing back then.

I recall the children’s piano book with pictures of dancing Mexicans and lovely seaside scenes.

With a sharp pencil, the lady would write in the notes with precision, then briskly give a piece to practice at the end.

She would offer a bowl of sweets as mother picked me up but I was to take just one. I recall chocolate limes and the boiled ones. This was the best bit in my opinion, along with watching Thunderbirds at home! Later violin lessons were a dream in comparison where the only problem was a bow without sufficient resin. Our violin teacher was quite jolly and did engender the enthusiasms. I played in the school orchestra which involved some meticulous miming sometimes!

I recall the hard black case with velvet slot for the bow and little box for the resin. Perfect. It seemed strange to carry your instrument around after the piano.

I also recall the exam and the fear and horror of an unseen piece. The anxiety as you waited your turn was immense, but passing was a joy and the certificate to follow was great.

Guitar lessons followed on. Miss P would have been horrified! We had a great teacher who never raised his voice. Instead he let us learn our favourite tunes, while throwing in the classics between. It was during this period that I got to play all those old Beatles favourites referred to last week.

Great stuff.