Helen Dahlstrom – My Piano Teacher

In 3 years I went from learning how to play the piano to grade 6. I had to play for my teacher before she would accept me as a student. Mrs. Dahlstrom never had me take an exam and she put me in competitions against other students of hers who had played for 10 years. I felt she was trying to move me along so that I could be playing with my peers. I guess she felt I had some skill. I only ever practiced the songs I liked and I would learn my scales when I would walk for 40 minutes to her house for my lesson. At home my scales were great when I practiced them but on cold days when I would walk to her house for my lesson, my hands would be cold and they were never quite the same as what they were at home. I have no idea what she saw in me and I know she was disappointed that I quit taking lessons because I had 5 pieces that I hated. Over several weeks, I slowly got rid of pieces that I liked and ended up with 5 that I didn’t like and my heart was no longer into taking piano. I didn’t know who she was at the time but later when I met musicians they all knew about her so I guess, based on the information below, I had some skill as a pianist. I still like the piano but I preferred sports more. I was done. For years after I quit taking lessons I enjoyed playing in the the evenings in our home in Rossland just as the sun was going down with the windows open. The piano was located in the greenhouse in the back of our home and during the day that room would get sooooo hot. I think my weekly piano lessons cost $15/each. Mrs. Dahlstroms house was very beautiful. She taught her lessons in her basement. Upstairs she had a grand piano, which I found very hard to play because it had different key movement. Her piano was in the middle of her living room surrounded by windows with her kitchen on one side. Outside the windows were green trees; it was beautiful and peaceful. Her husband, at the time, was a lawyer. He had his office in the basement and would comment about some of the students when they took their lessons. He was very nice. Click here for the source of this article.

Helen (Arline) Dahlstrom (b Underbakke). Teacher, pianist, organist, choir conductor, b Regina, of Norwegian-Canadian parents, 5 Jun 1917; ATCM 1930, L MUS (Saskatchewan) 1932.

Dahlstrom, Helen
Helen (Arline) Dahlstrom (b Underbakke). Teacher, pianist, organist, choir conductor, b Regina, of Norwegian-Canadian parents, 5 Jun 1917; ATCM 1930, L MUS (Saskatchewan) 1932. She studied piano 1929-35 with Cyril Hampshire at the Regina Cons; in the summer of 1935 with Stephen Balogh at the Cornish School, Seattle; and privately 1944-6 with Leonard Heaton in Winnipeg and later with Boris Roubakine in Calgary. At 16 she played the Schumann Concerto with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. She was accompanist for John Gosson a tour in 1940 of western Canada and was heard frequently 1940-3 as a soloist on radio station CJRM, Regina. She lived 1945-7 in Winnipeg, where she often played on CBC radio. Moving to Rossland, BC, she served 1950-64 as organist-choirmaster at St Andrew’s United Church and became conductor of the A Cappella Singers in 1964. She led that group in various southeast British Columbia centres for over 10 years. Over the years she has accompanied many distinguished instrumentalists in recital, including Elfreda Gleam (1965) and Reginald Kell (1969). Dahlstrom, who began teaching piano and theory in 1929, was president 1970-1 of the BCRMTA and 1971-5 of the CFMTA, and was an examiner 1984-9 for the RCMT. In 1971 she became national chairman of Canada Music Week and editor of its newsletter, and in 1985 she edited the Canada Music Week Silver Anniversary Collection of Canadian Music(Waterloo 1985). Under the sponsorship of the CFMTA, she has compiled Canadian Composers Mini Biographies (2nd edn 1989), a biographical list of Canadian composers whose music appears on the RCMT, WBM and WOCM syllabi. Dahlstrom has adjudicated at competitions across North America, including the Young Keyboard Artists Association international piano competitions at Ann Arbor, Mich (1985) and Orange County, Cal (1989).

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