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It was the early 1870's in New England when Ninnettee Radcliff Willford set her sights out west. Little is known of her travels to the Bay area of California. But as history tells it , she had her Decker Brothers' square grand piano sent ahead to travel around Tierra del Fuego and finally come to rest in Marin county.  During her sojourn there NIna met and married John Holmes Huntley. They had two sons, Chester and Wilford. 

     Chester is my grandfather and he fell heir to the piano. And so my story begins. As a young child I would spend hours at Grandpa and Nanno's house.  One of the many pleasantries was the old grand piano. I loved to make up tunes and to hear my Grandfather play " The Sidewalks of New York" That was one of his favorites and soon became a fond memory of mine. 

     Later the piano was moved next door to my home and I began my long journey of piano study. And a long journey it was.  I spent years as a vocalist in various choirs and groups.  I finally went back to piano as it was a safe place for me. There was so much music I loved. 

     Little did I know that my life's course would take such a change in 1976 when I began private study with a teacher who lied next door to my family in Montrose, Colorado.  I was married and we had two little girls.  I would often rest in the afternoon and could hear the melodic line of The Entertainer as it drifted through thin walls.  I remembered thinking how much I missed playing.  We did not own a piano at the time. But I went to my neighbor and asked for lessons anyway.  After the second meeting she suggested to my surprise that I begin teaching.  I had never thought about teaching piano, thinking that I would need to be degreed to seek such a position. 

     We did not have much money but I was able to purchase an old upright from a family in Olathe who had it stored in their barn.  I had a professional guide me through the purchase and invested in some needed repairs. 

     My teacher introduced me to the local music teachers' association and I became an avid member.  In 1977 right after the birth of my son, I started my studio with one young girl. She was a hard worker and I still keep in contact with her and her family to this day. 

     In 1990, our family moved. So with recommendations in hand I began a studio in Sierra Vista, AZ. During this time I became a certified Kindermusik teacher and enjoyed sharing music with little ones and sharing in their excitement and natural love of music and movement. While in Sierra Vista, I worked with the Cochise Music Association and served in various offices as well as ASMTA secretary for two terms. 

     Sadly, in 1998 my husband, Dan, passed away and I was left with a big house and a young daughter to raise alone. I continued my piano studio and added work as an educational transcriber with the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind.  In 2008 I married a " long ago" dear friend, Stan Hendrickson and we moved to Whidbey Island WA. for five years. During those years I joined with other teachers in the Whidbey Island Music Teachers Association.

     In 2013 we returned to Sierra Vista where I continue to maintain my piano studio.  LIfe has taken many twists and turns for me, but I have been richly blessed. The story continues and last year I celebrated 40 years of teaching. We had a fun reunion recital with my current students, many previous students and my own children who were able to join in the celebration. That event was dedicated to my five children, Colleen, Bekki, Jared, Derek and Amanda who have supported me all these years and who have become musicians in their own right. 

My mission statement?  " The Piano Bench ~ Enriching Lives through Music" 

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