Sunday, April 25, 2010


Mama sipped coffee at her neighbor, Jeanne Skinner's home, a typical '50s scene. Their familiar chat turned, as usual, to the piano and Mom's request, "Play it for me, Jeanne." The church organist went to her piano and played The Butterfly.

"If Kathy could ever play that, I'd consider our investment in music lessons well worth it!" Mama wished. "Would you teach her piano?"

With that friendship and request I became Mrs. Skinner's one and only piano student. I'd had 2 years of accordion before my folks figured buying a piano might pay off. I was 7 years old.

Over the next five years, the Navy life took us to Newport, RI, then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There at age 12 I practiced and made Mama's wish come true.

I recently found the tattered music with my childish handwriting all over it and now, 50 years later, gave it to one of my students to conquer. Last Saturday Gabe, 12, and I played it for recital, Dinner Music Festival '10. I wondered if Mama and Mrs. Skinner could hear it from heaven.

After all the students performed, we played one last song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This is both the debut and finale of The Family Band, formed by 3 of my piano students and their mothers. They adopted me into the family for the day! The swing style arrangement is by Mr. Craig Alberty, the father of Thad (trumpet) and Grant (trombone). His wife, Lyn, is also on trombone. Gabe Smallwood played keyboard (bass) with his mother, Roxie on trumpet.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Here are a few pictures from the evening.

"OK, kids, let's make goofy faces!" Some hung me out to dry!


  1. I always get The Butterfly and The Flight of the Bumblebee mixed up. ;-)

    Either way, it always makes me cry.

  2. Gay Nossal Wells commented on your link:

    "As always it was a wonderful evening of music, laughter and food. Can't believe we have been a part of this for 11 years!!"
    Gay Wells
    Tom and Gay's daughter, Karen, is pictured above at the piano. Her older brother, Tom, was my student for 10 years.

  3. If you ever start giving lessons by satellite, count me in! :)

  4. How I wish my kids could have taken music lessons from you. Your students are blessed to have you as their teacher. Enjoyed your post.