I became an Associate of the London College of Music and taught piano locally until I was 84 years old.
When I was seven years old my mother and father bought a piano and I started having lessons with Mr Wilson.
I had several piano teachers, including Madam Bruford and Bill Moore. I went to the studio at George March’s shop in Camden Street for lessons with them. Madam Bruford thought that my hands might be too small for the piano and jokingly suggested that I had silver thimbles on each one to make them longer. After I had been having lessons with her for a while and passed my first exam, she gave me a silver thimble and I still have it now.
When I was sixteen there was a vacancy in the Co-op store for a girl to do bookkeeping and clerical work. The doctor told my mother I shouldn’t do this type of work because my eyes weren’t up to it, so I didn’t go. Instead, I trained to be a music teacher. I became an Associate of the London College of Music and taught piano locally until I was eighty-four years old. Students used to go to St Andrew’s Hall Camden Street, next to the cut, to take their music exams. I remember one of my best students used to get really nervous before exams and on one occasion she was sick just before the exam started. The examiner asked if she wanted to stop but she said she would go ahead, and I was allowed to stay in the room while she played. She passed her exam and was awarded a silver certificate, a high achievement.
George March had a music shop in North Shields and he also played in the Albion Cinema Orchestra, which was directed by Bill Moore, my piano teacher. Sometimes he had to close the shop early to get to the cinema in time to play for the silent films and one day he asked me if I would look after the shop so it could stay open later. I said I would give it a trial, but I ended up staying for six and a half years. It was a busy shop, selling lots of sheet music.
Once Bill asked me to go to the pictures and see what I thought of the music that he was playing during the film. I thought that it didn’t always fit in to what was happening on the screen. We talked about it for a while and I suggested that we used the synopsis of the story that the film distributors sent with the film and tried to match our own selection of music to it. We did this and I ended up working out the programme of music for many silent pictures. It got to the point where we were sending out the band parts to other picture houses in the area too.