Hello. I’m Hazel. My father died when I was five years old. I had three older brothers. My mother was only 37 years old with all of this responsibility in the middle of The Depression. But we did have a piano and when I started first grade, my first grade teacher evidently loved music because it seemed like every day she was teaching us a new little song to sing.
I would come home and pick it out on the piano and sing along. Pretty soon, I got tired of just doing the melody and started doing something with my left hand. There was no way we could afford music lessons, but my mother was so concerned that I was playing by ear because in her day, if anyone played by ear, that meant they would never learn to read music and she wanted me to learn to read music. But somehow I must have learned by osmosis somehow and I kept playing along. Finally, I got a little bit of training from a high school girl from the time I was 9 and 10 during the winter. But she was only there in the winter and was gone in the summers.
In the summers, I picked cotton every day from sunup ’til sundown. It was very grueling work, but I didn’t think anything of it because that’s what everybody did. We got up early. We were in the cotton patch at sunup, sunrise, and we were there all day in 110 degree temperature pulling those cotton sacks behind us. Remember, there’s no coffee breaks, no potty breaks, and one 30-minute moment to have our lunch under the shade of the wagon and get a drink of water from the dipper that everybody else drank out of. We didn’t think a thing about it, anything about germs in those days. I guess we were building up antibodies, so that we could be strong.
Finally, when I was 11 years old, I picked the most I ever picked and it was 250 pounds. I was so proud and, of course, we just brought the money in and laid it on the kitchen table. We never saw a penny of it as far as spending it for ourselves. We saw it in food and that was enough for us.
About that time, my little friends came to me and asked me to teach them to play the piano. Well, I didn’t know a thing about teaching the piano but I figured, well, I’ll teach them what I know. “That’ll be 25 cents a lesson,” I said. I don’t know where I came up with that, but I figured out really quickly, if I had five students, I could make as much money as I did in that cotton patch all day long. That day that I picked 250 pounds, I got $1.25. Five students at 25 cents a piece would be $1.25 and I thought, “This is for me. This is what I’m going to do,” and I did it for 75 years.
I loved teaching and I, of course, went ahead and studied piano, studied music in college, have a bachelor’s degree in music and education, and a master’s in piano performance. Now, when I got that piano performance degree, I started on that when my twins were two years old and my next daughter was three years old, I had a son seven years old, and nine years old, and then another daughter 11. That’s when I started on my master’s degree and I was teaching private piano all along while that was happening.
I don’t know how I did that, but you do what you have to do. It has really been a wonderful career. I’ve loved it. The only reason I am not teaching now is because I started a new career in health and fitness and I am now a certified health coach. I would love for you to check out my information. I have written a book, 88 Keys to Living a Long and Purposeful Life. It’s available on Amazon. Thank you. I’d love to hear from you.