Ever since we moved to California, my family and I have been unable to find a piano teacher we can afford. So, my brother’s and I have been teaching ourselves new pieces. Our old teacher, Fran, told us before we left that we all knew enough between the three of us that we could all keep learning with each other’s help and no teacher.
Yesterday I called Fran because I hadn’t contacted her in a while and had been meaning to for some time. Her husband picked up and I when I said my name he didn’t remember my name, but after I said I was the red-head who used to take lessons from Fran and they would always run late he remembered me and said he’d try to find her.
Fran was always more like the grandmother I never had than a piano teacher, she’s sweet and forgetful like an older woman should be, and she tends to go off on some story and then forget what her point was; though there was plenty of piano playing involved in the time we spent with her I assure you. She was just very special; I wish we could have brought her with us.
She answered the phone and was very pleased to hear me as she said at least five times throughout the phone call. She would just tack on to the end of her sentence, “and I’m so glad you called me dear, it’s so good to hear from you.” I don’t have the greatest memory in the world either, so this is not exactly the way the conversation went, but she is just so sweet and I miss her so much, I couldn’t avoid writing it down.
After she greeted me she said, "I knew you were going to call me, because I was thinking about you and I thought they should call me."
Me: And here I am!
Fran: Right dear, here you are, now how are things going have you found a job? (it‘s obvious in hindsight that she had wanted to ask this question since she got on the phone).
Me: Yes, I’m selling Avon.
Fran: Oh, really? That’s wonderful dear. How about your brother?
Me: He’s still looking.
Fran: Right well, I should have said this…but- I know it’s going to sound silly but, I think you all should try teaching piano. I think it would be a good experience for you since lessons are so expensive out there, you could probably find some little kids to teach and it will greatly benefit you, as well as making some money. You won’t charge as much because you don’t have a master’s degree and you have no experience, but that will be fair, and the teachers there shouldn’t get upset about you charging less because you don’t have any experience.
Fran: I mean, I learned so much after I started teaching. Because you have to think a lot; you have to ask yourself, ‘how am I going to teach this?’
Me: Yes, but I’m not sure what a good age to start would be, because as I got out doing my daily errands I see kids and a lot the five and six-years-olds are just so unruly.
Fran: Five year-olds are terrible and my old teacher got four five-years-olds and she didn’t want to teach them, so she gave them to me and I was seventeen-years-old and with no teaching experience at all! I had no idea what I was doing and they left after three weeks. I couldn’t control four five-year-olds! They were running around, jumping, and laughing at me. I had no control over them. So they left. Then after I got married and my first husband and I were living in Wichita Kansas, and like most young people, we were short on money. So my husband told me I needed to start teaching and I said ‘O-o-okay’ then I loved it. I learned so much! And the feeling that you get when your student goes to a recital and plays well is great. You can imagine what that did for my ego, because if your student does well, then you must be a good teacher.
Fran: And I am a very good teacher, I’m so old now, there’s really no point in modesty. I am a good teacher and have been for a long time. Then there’s my old student S- did you ever meet him?
Me: Yes, I believe I did once.
Fran: Well, he lives down in Florida and he works for a music store and he was doing pretty well, but he still needed some money, so he started teaching and he does rather well…I don’t know how I started talking about all of this.
Me: You think piano teaching would be good for me.
Fran: Right, yes, it would be very good I think for you and both your brothers, but especially you.
Around this time the phone was disconnected and I had to redial, I won’t go into all that we talked about, but after I spoke with her I decided that everyone needs a Fran in their life and my brothers and I are going to make an extra effort to speak to her more often.