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Key Loss
Piano teachers scale back

The Methow Valley has three piano teachers: all have been at it a long time. Lynette Westendorf, Monica Pettelle, and Linda Mendro are reducing their student loads and hoping that someone will step up to fill in after them.

photoThe hands of Lynette Westendorf’s students are reflected in the piano as they play a duet. Photo by E.A. Weymuller

“We’re just trying to get the word out. We’re seeing a need,” Westendorf said. “All three of us are thinking of more time away.”

“We’re wanting a little more freedom,” said Pettelle, and retirement by attrition seems to be the route to take, according to Westendorf.

“I had 30 students two years ago,” said Westendorf. “In an effort to reduce the load, I’m down to 17.”
Mendro has approximately 13 students.

The valley is already “two teachers down” Westendorf explained. Dee Dee Pearce died and Suzanne Johnson retired and moved.

The demand for piano teaching remains high, the teachers say.

“It’s been a musical community and has gotten even more so during the recession,” said Westendorf. “Piano teaching is recession-proof here.”

Westendorf and Pettelle teach at home, Mendro, who taught piano for years and then stopped for a long time, has recently started up again because “the need was great.”

“I’m currently teaching mostly after school at Pipestone,” said Mendro. The Pipestone Institute, which has practice rooms at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp, is going to getting involved in the need for more, said Westendorf, and “hopefully attract teachers.”

A lot of piano teaching experience will be gradually departing: Westendorf studied piano through her childhood and started teaching as a sophmore in high school. Pettelle, whose mother taught piano, began teaching in 1978. Mendro taught for 25 years before starting again recently.


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