Thursday, April 26, 2012


Duncan is an amazing young man and I am so privileged to be his teacher. He first came to my studio as a transfer in the Kindermusik Young Child program and completed his final year. Toward the end of that year, his mother inquired about piano lessons for him. That may not seem unusual, but for Duncan it was. Duncan was born with one hand.

After inquiring about methods and materials for this situation and finding none for a beginner, I decided that if Duncan wanted to play the piano, then he would. We have used the traditional books and adapted them for Duncan. He is completing his third year of piano and has done so well. Duncan is very musical and creates his own ideas of adapting the songs to his situation. For the recital this year, he is playing literature written for the left hand only and is so excited that he has progressed to this point.

Duncan's family is from Canada. Here's hoping that they will be in Anderson for a long time as I can't wait to see Duncan's continued progress with his piano.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Aunt Mary

Mary Ida McCuen was born on November 5, 1910 in Dovesville, South Carolina. She was born to Reverend and Mrs. Will McCuen (Ida Burts). Sadly, Mary's mother died on Easter Sunday 1914 when Mary was only 3 1/2 years old. Miss Julia, a lovely lady in the community, lived with the McCuen family and took care of Mary and her two brothers after their mother died. In 1917, Mary's daddy made an unfortunate choice when he remarried and Mary had a very difficult childhood with a wicked step-mother.

Upon graduating from high school, Mary went to the Baptist Hospital in Columbia to train to be a nurse. She graduated and became an RN. Mary served in the Army during World War II and also during the Korean conflict. She became a Second Lieutenant and remained in the reserves after World War II. She was a nurse at the Veteran's Hospital in Columbia for the remainder of her career.

Aunt Mary never married but she had eight nieces and nephews that she adored and treated like we were her children. Whenever she came to visit us, she would bring me a box of animal crackers and take me to town to buy a toy. At Christmas and birthdays, there was always an envelope with money.

We spent several days with her every summer and she always had ham and potato salad for us when we arrived. While in college, a friend was married in Columbia. She allowed my friends to come with me to her house and get ready for the wedding. There was a bad storm that afternoon and when we arrived, she was so worried about us getting there safely and was sitting reading her Bible and praying.

When I had my first apartment, Aunt Mary gave me money for a house warming gift. While doing graduate work at USC in Columbia, I spent two nights a week with her when I had evening classes. As the work load increased, she invited me to live with her that summer so I would not have to commute.

Aunt Mary was a very caring and generous person. If she had a nickel, she wanted someone else to have it. When she became aware that her hair dresser's special needs son needed a burial plot, she bought another one for herself and gave hers to the woman's son. She gave 30-40% of her income to special causes, most of them benefiting children. She had such a difficult childhood and wanted to keep that from other children. As a family member has said, she was 280 degrees the opposite of what she saw as a child.

Pink was Aunt Mary's favorite color and I like to think that this is where my love of pink came from. It is my privilege to have her beautiful set of china which has pink flowers. The pattern is Old Rose by Arcadian. Her crystal is here as well. She had two Hummel figurines and they are now a part of my collection.

Having no children, Aunt Mary left her house to her eight nieces and nephews. Upon receipt of my portion, I was able to purchase a beautiful Yamaha small grand piano. She had a picture in her living room of a lady playing the piano. This picture was offered to me and I was so happy to have it to hang in the room with the piano.

Even though I have these wonderful gifts from Aunt Mary, the greatest treasure I received from Aunt Mary was her unconditional love. Thank you Aunt Mary for the influence you had on my life. What a beautiful legacy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tale of the Tea Set

     One of the darling little girls who comes to Miss Virginia for music, loves the pink guest room. She has commented numerous times to her mommy that she wants a room like that when she has her own house.  One day, she studied the tea set on the bed and noticed that it was displayed on a tray with silverware and a cloth napkin.  When she got home, she spread a silk blanket on her bed, put her tray and plastic tea set on it.  She asked her mommy to fold a napkin for her. Then when she got up the next morning, she put the tea set display back on her bed before going down to breakfast.
     Her mother sent me an e-mail describing what she had done.  That was almost three years ago and it was such a sweet story and memory.  Needless to say, that e-mail remains in my inbox.

Tale of the Gloves

     The guest room in Miss Virginia is pink and is very much a "girly" room.  One of the items in the room is a pair of little girl gloves that belonged to me as a child.  Some years ago, the gloves disappeared.  As David likes to play jokes sometimes, I asked if he had hidden them, but he said no.  So, the wheels in my brain began to turn .There was a memory of a little girl going to the bathroom and being gone too long.  My suspicion was that she had taken them but there was no way to know.
     As it was near recital time, at her next lesson we discussed the recital.  The child told me that she had some gloves she wanted to wear to the recital.  Well, needless to say, my ears shot straight up and I asked her about her gloves.  She described them as black and very long.  Well, my gloves were white and short so I thought that was the end of that.  As one can not play piano well in gloves, I told her that she could wear them to the recital but would need to remove them to play.  She seemed fine with that.
     Not long after that, I received a call from the girl's mother and she wanted to know about the gloves.  Again, my ears shot straight up and I asked her what she meant.  It seems the girl went home with a pair of gloves like the ones missing from the guest room.  She told her mother that they were for the recital and that her mother should send $10 for them.  So, I told the mother that there was a pair missing like those she described but they had nothing to do with the recital.  Then she realized the child had taken the gloves and was justifying it by having her mother send money. At the recital, the child returned my gloves and apologized.  Ever since then, the gloves have not left the pink guest room.