Piano and Me: Thanks, Dad

This blog article is provided by Maggie McGuire.

I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but most important music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.

Music—especially classical music–has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, thanks to my father. My Dad, though not Plato, knew the power of music in the same way as the Greek philosopher. He, a violinist, began lessons as a young child and played well into his adulthood. He was a member of an amateur orchestra and practiced regularly to learn and perfect his parts. The music of his practice, music on the radio, music at concert halls in New York city, and the arrival of stereophonic music on vinyl records filled my life. He was affectionately called a “long hair” by his family and peers and smiled at the distinction.

Maggie McGuire's father shown at the top left

Dad passed on his love of music (he also liked Broadway musicals and Frank Sinatra) to us, his kids. He made sure that each of us five offspring took piano lessons. The Edith McIntosh School of Music in Rockville Centre, New York became part of the fabric of my life from age 8-13. Five years of classical training along with excruciating instruction in musical theory. What an investment he made in us. Two of us five still play. I think he would be proud of that.

I played through my young adulthood (preferring more popular music back then, like the Beatles) whenever a piano was available, but life took over and 25 years passed before I returned to it. At 47, I bought my own piano and have been playing it ever since. Even returned to lessons and the discipline of practice and performance.

That's where ORS of Tacoma entered the picture.

Maggie McGuire performing in 2018 at the Spring Concerto Festival

My teacher at the time suggested performing in the Spring Concerto Festival in 2011. It didn’t matter to me that I would likely be the oldest soloist on the program. I wanted to take the leap and prepare for a solo performance with orchestral accompaniment in front of a real, live audience. I didn’t need to audition. I simply (not easy, just simple) needed to prepare and perfect a piece under the careful tutelage of my teacher. I said yes.

Since then, I have performed in nine festivals—almost annually—until Covid.

I sometimes wish that my father was still alive to attend one of my performances. The seed he planted so long ago took root. I’m not a virtuoso; I mostly play for my own enjoyment and the opportunities available through ORS of Tacoma. I know it’s good for me, as did my Dad. I think that would bring a smile.

Music matters, as Plato said centuries ago. It still enriches our lives, inspires our imaginations, and challenges growth. I am so grateful to have had a father that understood.

Wish me luck! I’m preparing for a performance at the 2022 ORS Concerto Festival. As I work hard to perfect each measure I say a quiet thank you.


Thank you to Maggie McGuire for submitting this article for the ORS blog. Learn more about the history of the Edith McIntosh School of Music on the community history project webpage, and come see Maggie perform this June at the Spring Concerto Festival.

If you are interested in submitting an article for posting on the ORS website, please email us at concerto@orstacoma.org with a draft and any accompanying materials.