Archive for the 'stocks teaching piano' Category


I became the teacher of the piano at Stocks (a girls’ boarding school at Albury near Tring) in the early fifties, succeeding Vernon Warner there. We had played Cesar Franck’s Symphonic Variations, Vernon playing the orchestral part on the second piano, as a way of introduction for me. I remained there for the next fifteen happy years, teaching charming, delightful and well-mannered girls the art of Chopin, Brahms, Bach and Beethoven. At the end of the day I would play to the whole school and ask them if there was anything they particularly wanted to hear next week. I once was asked for the “Moonlight Sinatra”! I asked the girl if she meant the one by Franck, but she didn’t know what I was talking about.

The school once decided to enter a local piano competition. We put up three entries – one of which was Brahms Intermezzo played by Elizabeth Lingard-Guthrie and we obtained the first three prizes, together with a warning “These three girls have obviously been taught by the same teacher; they should develop a more individual way of playing”! I consider this as a compliment!

We had lunch all together in the large dining room I sat at the end of the long refectory table with the head-mistress in the middle, with the girls each side of her. She would often announce interesting news from this position. She once caused me intense embarrassment: “Jane, who went to finish her education in Paris has just sent me a real French letter”. It was a difficult moment!.

Towards the end of my time at Stocks I had difficulty in maintaining an interest in classical music and I often received requests to teach their daughter the latest pop craze. Besides hating this kind of music I hadn’t a clue how to teach it. But that apart, my garage business was absorbing all my time, so finally I gave it up. One memory of Stocks I will never forget was when Miss Forbes-Dunlop (the headmistress) was called out of my end-of-day playing and returning in a hurry to call me to the phone (I was playing Brahms’ G minor Rhapsody) and it was Ann telling me to come home at once as our son, William, aged 5 was dangerously ill in hospital after a tonsils operation. I was using the Bond mini car at the time and Miss F-D at once insisted I take her own Austin 10.

Willain was very ill, but he soon recovered. When Miss Forbes-Dunlop retired Stocks was bought by Mr Heffner and The Bunny Club took it over. Miss F/D was invited back to celebrate her 90th birthday and so were Ann and I as part of the old staff. A number of old pupils also turned up and I heard many comments about bedrooms being turned into Jacuzzis. How times change!

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