Georgia Morehouse moved to Columbia many years ago when her husband took a job at the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU. She has felt privileged to be an active volunteer in the community, working for her church, The Wardrobe, Senior Games and First Night, but especially for the Women's Symphony League and the Missouri Symphony Society.
Click here to see her interview in the Missourian's 100 Ages project.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a far-away country, there lived a little girl with music in her heart. She was thrilled when her parents decided to hire a music teacher to come to their house to teach her oldest sister how to play the violin and to teach her second-oldest sister how to play the piano. She was especially excited because her parents decided that she might as well be included in the piano lessons. She had already picked out several tunes on the piano and had even experimented on playing with her right and left hands at the same time. She couldn’t wait for the lessons to begin!
The next week, she heard the roar of the motorcycle as her teacher, Herr Goldschtaup, rode up to their house. He was the very stern, no-nonsense German music teacher from her school. He was intimidating at school, but she was sure this would be different. She and her sister had their first lesson which consisted of various finger exercises that he had written out for them to master by the next week. Her sister was very focused in her practicing so it was easy for the little girl to listen and copy what her sister was playing. In fact, it was so easy that she didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the notes that were written on that sheet of paper. The music was in her heart and in her fingers, and she played it easily.
This went on for several weeks, with the little girl listening to the diligent practice of her sister and then sitting down to play by ear, exactly, but not perfectly, because the fingering wasn’t quite right. And besides, she wanted to play real melodies, not just those dreary little exercises.
She needed to let her teacher know what she wanted to play, so she had a great idea. She would figure out how to play her favorite Strauss waltz, “The Blue Danube.” She worked on it for a couple of weeks until she thought she was playing it flawlessly. When her teacher came that week, she went through all the little exercises before she “surprised” him with her 6-year-old version of the “Blue Danube.”
Much to her consternation, rather than smiling and praising her for her good playing, he frowned as he sat down at the piano and played her waltz... not only in the right key, but with all the frills and arpeggios, and pedal! Why, she couldn’t even reach the pedals so that was the final indignity. She was devastated. The next week, when she heard that motorcycle coming up the hill to her house, she ran and hid in the big laundry hamper in her parent’s bathroom. She didn’t show her face until she heard the motorcycle leaving. Of course, she got scolded soundly by her parents for missing her lesson, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to have him embarrass her again.
The years went by and the little girl grew up, married her prince charming and moved to Columbia. He was a great music lover as well, so they always had season tickets to all the operas and other musical events, including the summer festival of the Missouri Symphony Society. Each spring, the society had a morning program at their Missouri Theatre to promote the summer season. Of course, she and her husband always attended. It was at one such an event as she entered the lobby that she heard beautiful music emanating from the auditorium. She couldn’t wait to see who was playing the grand piano on that beautiful stage.
Much to her amazement, there sat at the piano a young boy wearing a jacket with the sleeves rolled back so that at least his fingers were able to touch the keys unimpeded. And unimpeded he was! She couldn’t believe that such truly wonderful music could be played by someone so young. She looked around the auditorium and saw two ladies listening attentively with encouraging smiles on their faces. She found out that these amazing ladies were the teachers of this incredible young man, as well of the other young people who followed him on the stage, all playing flawlessly. The idea sprang into her mind immediately to try to find a time when all of Columbia could hear this wonderful music. And so, she approached the Women’s Symphony League to sponsor an event to showcase all this talent.
That was twelve years ago. The Piano Student Showcase has changed through the years so that it now includes students of all mid-Missouri teachers who have students wishing to audition to play for the showcase. The judges choose thirty young pianists to play short pieces so that as many youngsters as possible can be on the stage of the gorgeous Missouri Theatre playing on that wonderful grand piano. The money raised by the sale of the tickets is used to provide scholarships for those students in need of a little assistance for the MOSS Conservatory.
The Twelfth Annual Piano Student Showcase is coming up again this year on November 16th at 7:00 P.M. at the historic Missouri Theatre.
The little girl never learned how to play the piano, but music still sings in her heart.
This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.