Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Memory: Florence

One day out of the blue, we learned something more about Florence.

Vicki, in 1956

"I was looking at something on yahoo. This made me curious about my old piano teacher, Florence Moed. So I searched Florence and got your blog! I was so happy that it was the same person who made such an indelible imprint on my early life.

Your mom was my first teacher, when I was 9, at the Williamsburg Settlement in Brooklyn. She had me going from rank beginning to my first Haydn little concerto, in one year. She took a keen interest in my development, so when she took the maternity leave, she insisted I must study with her old teacher, Miss Goren, at Henry Street, and also insisted I study theory there.

So I used to travel from my home in East Flatbush, to the Lower East Side in Manhattan, taking multiple mass transportation every Saturday. Because there was a several hour break between my theory and piano lessons, my routine was to grab a hamburger lunch at the small diner nearby, then go visit your mom. Getting to play duets with your mom (at my advanced age of 10 and 11) was a rare treat, and getting to play with baby Louise was the frosting on the cake! I can't give you much detail about my memories of [Louise's] babyhood, except that she was a sweet girl, and allowed your Mom and me to play our duets undisturbed.

Miss Goren was right on target. I don't remember any warmth or much personal connection, but I do remember a rigorous pursuit of perfection (unattainable to me). When I moved away from New York, I never again found the level of excellence and high standards in music education I had enjoyed at Henry Street. I knew that Miss Goren and other teachers usually taught at Juilliard, and that a poor child like me was extremely lucky to work with them, and pay what we could afford.

We tried to find another "Mrs. Moed" in California. The teacher I did find, Jean Kuhns, was also a lovely lady, who eventually sent me on to her aged teacher, Milan Blanchet (who had studied with BRAHMS as a child!).

My strongest memories were of how extraordinarily kind your mom was to take such interest in a beginning student and especially to invite me into her home every week to visit. Those visits meant more to me than the lessons, as did the years of faithful correspondence. I remember she would advise me about what to study among other things. When I got married, she gave me a subscription to The New Yorker, something she thought no intelligent individual should be without!

Although I have retained my love of music, I switched careers at age 30, ultimately finding more satisfaction in interior design. I love creating artful spaces for people to live in, and introducing them to art.

When I read your blog, it was so interesting to read about those other aspects of your mom. I'm glad your mom remained a fiercely independent woman. My goal was that her daughters should be sure to know about this sweet, generous side of her nature that I had the pleasure of knowing. Teachers may not make a lot of money, but they can make a lot of impact."