My beginnings with pedagogue Louis Moyse
Updated: Feb 9, 2019
As a teenager, I was a pianist since the age of 5, but had started playing flute in Grade 7 and 8. I picked that particular band instrument because I loved the way it gleamed and I just loved the sound it made. My father eventually went looking for a good teacher for me. One day, Dad told me that he had found this wonderful flute teacher for me from France who was teaching at University of Toronto, however, I had to audition to study with him. I remember liking the idea that he was European. So I began practicing in earnest in anticipation. I was lucky with the piano background, it helped with so many aspects of making music, BUT I was a pretty lousy flute player at the time and was often frustrated.
The day my Dad drove me to the music building at U of T, I was both excited and quite nervous. Meeting Louis Moyse was monumental for me, especially knowing he was the son of the legendary Marcel Moyse. Having seen many music books they had both written with both of their pictures on them didn't quite prepare me for meeting this grand master in person.
He was larger than life. Intense, lively eyes, bushy eyebrows, tall, commanding.....My father introduced us, then left. In his thick Parisian accent, Louis asked me to play scales. So, I bumbled through as many of them as I could and it was dismaying to see his face as he listened to my rudimentary tone and fumbling fingers. Then he asked if I had a piece of music to play. So out came the Chaminade, and I hacked my way through some of that. After about 2 pages, he called out, "Stop, stop, stop!". I thought for sure that was it, and he was going to dismiss me. "Do you play piano?" he asked. "Yes", I replied. "Play the piano for me." he said.
So, I sat down and played some Bach, then turned to look at him - he just waved at me to play more. On to some Mozart, then Mendelsohn Song without Words, then some of Beethoven Moonlight Sonata; I played piano for him for about 40 minutes.
After the Beethoven, I heard a sigh come from the corner of the room where he was sitting in his comfy chair. "You can stop now." he said. When I turned to look at him, he had a huge smile on his face, and he stated "I think I can teach you how to play the flute!".
I had lessons on Thursdays and it was the first time my father would loan me the little mini Austin our family had so that I could drive myself weekly to Louis and Janet's house in west Toronto. Lessons with him changed my life completely, and that was the beginning of what would be a 20+ year foray into learning the mysteries and intricacies of music-making and interpretation with this amazing grand master.