What about Bruce Sutherland?
One morning the ambulance had come next door. I remember going to Bruce for a lesson, and there was a stillness and grief around the house. He came to the door with tears in his eyes. “What happened?” I asked.
“Norma, my wife died. No lesson today.” And the gently shut the door.
After that, Bruce and his sister Mitzi put their attention towards remodelling the house and gardens. A pool and extra studio were added. After we moved, Bruce bought our old house and began storing his various souvenirs from his world travels in every room.
It is probably at this point I realised that music could be my salvation. It could help me stay sane enough to get through the trials of my father and mother, school, anything, everything.
I began to see a through-line: that music is vast, i could never really master it, but if used as a tool, it could take me places I could not even imagine at this time.
I also began to understand about art in general. There are basically two kinds - the show-off, therapeutic; and the intimate communication from the deepest wells of human experience that transcended time and place (but needed a cultural context). This started me on a quest to understand music and art on a completely new level.
And at that time of adolescence and discovery I had no one to talk to about this new art-world I had found. I still had Bruce, but he was my piano teacher and not open to this, and my father - though I tried - had no idea what I was raving about. I also began to see that there was a music inside me and I had no idea what it was.
So when I turned fifteen, my father and Bruce and I met outside one spring afternoon between our homes.
"Well, Vic, it's time to make a decision," said my Dad.
"That's right," said Bruce, "You've been doing recitals, receiving scholarships, performing the Grieg Piano Concerto, and getting ready to go professional."
"I don't understand," I said.
"We've been preparing you to be a professional concert pianist. You know, touring, performing with orchestras, being a Real musician," said Bruce.
"I can't keep paying for your piano lessons all your life if you're not going to see it through," added my father.
"I see. You want me to play other people's music and that would be "professional" and my career, as it were, is that right?"
"Yes," they both said.
I thought for a minute. I reflected on all the new music I was learning with the school jazz band, and how they encouraged me to improvise and play the blues and ...
"I can't. It's not something I can do, besides I don't even know what music is inside me. How can I play other people's music, if the music inside me isn't getting played? So Dad, Bruce- I guess I'll stop taking piano lessons and you won't have pay for them anymore. Bruce, if I want to start again, I will pay for them myself. Is that okay?"
They were both stunned. This was an unexpected turn of events. The boy was turning out to be rebel. But it was his choice, so all they could do was agree.