Oh No, said my parents ! You made a promise and we will stick to the contract. And with that they found a very nice lady teacher named [ would you believe it ? ] Mrs. Finger, who lived about five minutes bicycle ride away from home. What a contrast she was – the lessons were FUN and progress was more rapid than before, in spite of my heart being set on football. My mother reminded me years later about my practice routine. Mrs. Finger suggested a minimum of thirty minutes daily, so during that time I took one trip to the kitchen for a glass of water, one to the toilet, and one extra kitchen trip to make sure I hadn’t exceeded my thirty minutes. And still made progress ! Sadly, Mr. Finger had a work transfer after a happy year of learning, and they moved interstate. Ah-Ha I thought, no more piano lessons . Wrong again, Harry………….
Mrs. Alice and Mr. Hugh Ross were my next teachers, located five miles away.
This meant my Dad had to drive me, but only in inclement weather as they figured a five mile [ 8 kilometre ] bicycle ride in fine weather would be a good amount of exercise before and after the lesson. The Ross method of teaching was very disciplined and more professional than the previous teachers, and I had my first experience of setting goals – they put time limits on the amount of time I studied and practiced a classical composition to an acceptable standard. Then move on to the next piece. They had two excellent German upright pianos, a Ronisch and a Lipp. So far I had never seen a grand piano except in the movies.
After several months they proposed I undertake biannual examinations with the London College of Music and work towards this goal. Because they had such positive attitudes to teaching and made all the lessons very interesting and challenging, I thrived on their program. For the next two years my routine was to have my regular lessons for two months, and then commence a four month period of preparing a series of finger exercises and fairly major classical pieces for the examination by an external examiner. As a thirteen year old, like many of my contemporaries, I was subject to pressure and some nerves in the final weeks.
A Pass With Honours was 85%, and all we students aspired to that or a higher score. I regret that I didn’t quite get there – my best effort was 84 % twice and an 81% and 82 %. After two years, this pressure and the constant attraction to do more sporting and teenage boy pastimes helped me reach the decision to quit classical piano lessons.
Nowhere Land Musically. In Limbo !
For the next few months our piano and any form of learning of it was ignored by me, and I concentrated on anything but music. Yippee ! I got to play football and almost did serious permanent damage to my right thumb in the process.