A lovely surprise awaited me when I played at the Brunton Theatre on Tuesday. Sitting in the front row was my first piano teacher, Gordon Lindsay (‘Mr Lindsay’, as I knew him). He taught me from when I began piano lessons at the age of seven until I was nine or ten. Since then, apart from glimpsing him in the audience a few years ago at a Queen’s Hall concert of mine, I don’t believe I had set eyes on him.
At the age of 91, Mr Lindsay still had the bright gaze that I remembered. It was he who taught me to read music. I still recall the excitement of learning what those black blobs meant, and how to count up the ‘lines and spaces’ of the stave. I remember we did the first exercise in the book, using just three notes: ‘This is up. This is down. This is up and down.’
On Tuesday I was giving a lecture-recital about Debussy’s ‘Images’. Whenever I talk to the audience, I always instinctively search for sympathetic-looking faces to address. It was easy to find that sympathetic face, because Mr Lindsay was following every word with alert interest, his blue eyes shining. What a pity we had lost touch for so long!