Leila Fletcher vs. John Thompson

Today my childhood / high school / facebook friend, The Beautiful Mimi, posted a picture of one of her old piano method books. She took lessons from Mrs. Dybeck and Mrs. Dybeck taught young students via the John Thompson method books. I took lessons from Mrs. Diecke (I’m probably mangling the spelling) and she taught young students via the Leila Fletcher method books.

Actually, I taught myself to read music *and* play the piano before I was 10. I used hand-me-down Leila Fletcher books from my older cousins. I *got* most of it. Which keys on the piano corresponded to which notes on the music staff. Whole notes and half notes and quarter notes and even sixteenth notes. I had a small bit of trouble with dotted quarter (et al) notes for quite some time but then once when Uber Kayak Woman (who had been taking lessons for a while) was visiting, I asked about those indecipherable dotted quarter notes and I don’t remember exactly what she said but I GOT IT! I WAS ECSTACTIC! I made it up through about the third Leila Fletcher book under my own power and then The Commander commanded that I would be taking lessons. With Mrs. Diecke. Who was very nice and a wonderful teacher and yada yada.

Alas, when we were young, nerds like me did not always know that we were “cool”. I *loved* playing the piano (and flute but that’s a whole ‘nother story) but I QUIT (the piano, not the flute) in 8th grade. I was desperately trying to be “cool” aka popular and I had some strange idea that if I quit doing one of the things I loved, I would instantly be popular. Roight. I never quit *playing* the piano after that and in 11th grade, I came [partially] to my senses. I need piano lessons! Mrs. Diecke and her husband (the band director) had left town by then and so I arranged to get lessons from Mrs. Dybeck. I never used the John Thompson method books with her. I am not the best piano player on earth but I was well beyond any method books by then.

Mrs. Dybeck was also a wonderful piano teacher and I loved her and I actually practiced (usually). Do you know that a weekly piano lesson in Sault Ste. Siberia cost $1.50 in those days? My mother… The Commander… Was horrified about that. She told Mrs. Dybeck in no uncertain terms that she would be paying the grand sum of $2.00 for my lessons and Mrs. Dybeck had better just accept that. Clearly, The Comm was happy that I was taking lessons again and had initiated it myself. She also valued the talent and hard work of a private music teacher. The next year, Mrs. Dybeck told me that she was raising her rates to what my mother had already been paying.

Of all things, I am now selling my first piano teacher’s house (Mrs. Diecke). The room where I waited for my lessons eventually became my brother’s bedroom and then The Comm’s office. The room where I had my lessons became my grandmother’s and then my parents’ living room. With a piano in exactly the same place as Mrs. Diecke’s.

2 Responses to “Leila Fletcher vs. John Thompson”

  1. Jay Says:

    I don’t think I knew about the piano lesson’s tie-in to the Dillon St house.
    I know we had John Thompson books, and I think also Leila Fletcher, but I can’t remember if they were for my lessons or my kids.

  2. Margaret Says:

    What a wonderful post! Piano lessons have also been important in our lives.