"At 80, Piano Teacher can still tickle the ivories in fine style" By Lois Whitehead , The Star Ledger, Thursday August 1, 1996
Edith Anderson concedes that there are people who may think she’s a showoff. “But I decided long ago” she countered, “to keep moving. When you’re dead, you can’t move.” The Piscataway resident didn’t stop moving – not even for a minute – when she piano concert given to a n audience of 150 fans at the John F. Kennedy Library in Piscataway. The musical selections ranged from classical to ragtime. She played Scarlatti, Chopin, Paderewski and Liszt. She dedicated Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” to her husband, Stanley, who was in the audience. In the same romantic vein, she played Robert Schumann’s “Viennese Mardi Gras” which he wrote when courting his wife. And she ended her concert with a rousing rendition of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” During intermission, the audience sang “Happy Birthday” to her. At the close of the concert, she led the audience in a sing-along featuring what she called “saloon” songs. Then she invited the gathering to dance the hora. Since she was dancing, there was no musical accompaniment. Her three children, Larry of Milford, Mass., and Charlotte and Rickey, both of New York City – were on hand to celebrate with her and to photograph the event. Her 5 year old grandson, Kevin, of Milford, called his grandmother ‘great’ and said she helped him learn to play the recorder. “People are extremely surprised that she is 80,” said Ann Thomas, Chairwoman of the Piscataway Cultural Arts Commission, which sponsored the concert along with the Music Performance Trust Fund of the American Federation of Musicians and the Friends of Piscataway Library. “She has a vitality for living that brings a smile to everyone she meets.” Others present referred to her as a “bionic woman,” commenting on her high-energy level, which Anderson credits to her lifestyle. “I believe in alternative cures, diet and fasting.” She said. “Some people feel I am a health nut, but I believe thinking well – positively – goes a long way to help you from becoming ill.”
She credits the fact that she can play the piano with such vitality to techniques learned from Alan Wasserman of Freehold, an instructor in the style of the Dorothy Taubman Institute, based in Amherst, Mass. Before she started studying institute techniques 10 years ago, she was so plagued with arthritis that she could play for only five minutes at a time. Wasserman, who was at the concert, explained. “The institute shows people how to balance gravity by using their whole hand and arm, not just the fingers, in playing. They learn how to control their movements.” “Even people much younger than Edith have athletic injuries which inhibit their playing.” He added. “But Edith is really a powerhouse person and a wonderful inspiration to everyone at the school.”
Anderson, who has played piano for 77 years, said that she has performed at colleges, libraries, nightclubs and hotels in the United States and Canada. In 1938 and ’39, she appeared at Town Hall in New York City. She used to give piano lessons privately and had been a music teacher in the Piscataway, South Brunswick, Franklin Township and Woodbridge public school systems for a total of 20 years. She received a bachelor of arts degree in music from Trenton State at age 45. More than 25 years later, she earned a master’s in music from Rutgers University. “I had to audition to enter the program, which at age 69 was quite an experience,” she recalled. Anderson keeps more than her hands in shape. She swims daily and belly dances. The latter is an art she explored for the first time at age 54. She also folk dances every Tuesday at the Green Brook Middle School as part of an adult education program and is a member of the Highland Park Rockettes, a group that performs line and folk dancing for community organizations. Many of the Rockettes were in attendance at the concert. Surveying the crowd attending the gala, Anderson said “I enjoy the same things today I have all my life and I intend to celebrate my 100th birthday in the same style.”
Whoever says "youth is wasted on the young", didn't attend the November reprise of "Alan Wasserman and Friends". Those who did attend saw Greenbriar's Ball Room transformed into a recital hall. The attendees were treated to a performance by exceptionally gifted and talented youngsters, ranging in age from 11-15 years old. Alan, in his self-effacing manner, introduced these beautifully dressed and poised prodigies. They performed the classical compositions of the Masters on the piano. We were also introduced to a traditional Chinese instrument, the Zheng, masterfully played by the youngest of the students. Alan showed off his skills as well. A video camera was set up that allowed us to see their fingers deftly move across the keyboard. It was truly an enthralling evening, topped off with coffee and cookies. It should be noted that the honorarium for the performance was very graciously donated to the Food Bank, by the performers! Linda Grossman
Alan Wasserman brought some new friends on Sunday, May 31st. They were his advanced teen-aged pianists. The girls in their recital dresses and the boys in their suits lived up to their professional appearance. Playing from memory, for the most part, these beautiful young people brought us Haydn, Chopin, Gottschalk, Mendelssohn, Gershwin, Joplin, Ellington and others. Andrew Paladino did a flowing rendition of Malaguena. And Kevin Gluck, belying his thirteen years, handled "Take the "A" Train" like a seasoned Jazz pro - perfectly rhythmical and loose.
Alan, a long time friend of Greenbriar's, a master Teacher, and a performer who had his debut performance in Weill Recital Hall, got the best out of our humble Clavinova piano, making Beethoven soar and Gottschalk dance. His guided listening comments, as always, shed light on the music, the composers, and the performers.
Remember Lucas Hurley McCabe's performance here, last year at age twelve? Lucas has performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and when he wowed our audience last year, he became the inspiration for this student recital.
What an uplifting afternoon for those Greenbriarites who choose to come to this recital! I watched them as they mingled and lingered with Alan Wasserman, the students, and their warm, unassuming families afterwards over cookies and coffee. To the entire talented group of poised performers, who decided to contribute their fee to the Monmouth County Food Bank, bless you and may MUSIC be your life-long friend. Beverly Rosenblum, Chairperson - Friends of Music