Over 23 years ago, I took my first piano lesson. I was 8 years old. It is hard to believe that I have been playing the piano for 23 years. Over my musical ‘career,’ I have studied piano with at least 5 different piano teachers. Most of them taught me for only a year or two. I benefited from every one of them. However, two of them stand out above all the rest. One taught me to love the piano. The other taught me to excel at piano.
A Love for the Piano
In 1990, I began 3rd grade at Lakeland Christian School (LCS). There were many things about 3rd grade that I did not like. However, during my 3rd grade school year, I began taking piano lessons from Audrey Parrish at LCS. My memories of her are similar to a child’s memories of a loving grandparent. She was kind and patient. She taught me to love the piano. Mrs. Parrish carefully took me through each of the piano method books. I never remember her losing her temper or being frustrated. For 6 years she invested in my life. I can still remember a day during the summer between 8th & 9th grade. A letter came to my house informing us that Mrs. Parrish was retiring from teaching piano at LCS. I remember crying. Imagine an 8th grade boy crying at the loss of his piano teacher. This should communicate volumes to you about Audrey Parrish.
Recently, I learned that Mrs. Parrish had passed away. I will never forget the investment that she made in my life. She taught me to love the piano.
Excellence at the Piano
In the fall of 1999, I entered Bob Jones University as a freshman Music Education major. As I arrived on campus, I did not personally know anyone in the music department. As a piano principal, I was required to audition. In God’s providence, I was assigned to the piano studio of Dr. Susan Kindall. Looking back, this decision was the pivotal point of my four years in college.Having already developed a deep love for the piano, Dr. Kindall taught me to excel at the piano. I developed a strong technique at the piano that has helped me tremendously as I accompany and teach. She pushed me to set high expectations and to not settle for ‘good enough.’ Even though I was a Music Education major, she taught me as if I were a Piano Performance major. At my juries, I was often commended by other teachers for exceeding the requirements of a Music Education major. For Dr Kindall, it was never about meeting the minimum requirements. It was about maximizing my potential for the glory of God.Watching Dr. Kindall, I learned how to be a strong Christian while interacting with a lost world. Dr. Kindall would frequently bring guest artists to the campus who were not Christian. Her testimony to them was above reproach.
I will never forget Mrs. Parrish or Dr. Kindall. All of the students who I teach feel the effects of these two teachers. Each day, as I teach, I am working to inspire my students to love the piano while at the same time pushing them towards excellence.May God grant us many more teachers like Audrey Parrish and Susan Kindall.