Coming full-circle: embracing music and the French language

Anne Bedford '60

Anne Marie Bedford ’60, Retired Professor and Instructor of Piano

Major: French language and literature with a minor in music

Advanced Degrees: M.S., The Juilliard School

While I majored in French, it was my minor in music that proved most useful to my future academic and career choices. I entered the College with a four-year scholarship in piano. Though my academic load made it difficult to find the time for practice, my first-year piano instructor encouraged me to teach a handful of youngsters, and at the end of my senior year, these students gave a recital. Although I had written a senior thesis in French (earning a Magna cum laude degree), I discovered that my greatest joy was hearing those students perform.

So, I made an abrupt change, totally unforeseen, deciding that teaching (and maybe, performing) piano would be my career path. My Mount Holyoke music minor prepared me for The Juilliard School where I was able to transfer credits for theory and music history, thereby easing my entrance into the MS program in piano. I entered Juilliard with the goal of becoming the best teacher I could possibly be.

My 50-year career included teaching at several universities and conservatories, as well as in the early years, performing solo, chamber, and duo-piano in the greater Philadelphia area. Now retired in New Hampshire as of July 2016, I am enjoying the luxury of practicing, playing chamber music and, of all things, relearning the French language (with a weekly class of like-minded seniors eager to recoup their fluency). So, I have come full circle, embracing both music and the French language!

I believe that I would not have had the drive or endurance to pursue the extremely demanding graduate studies I encountered to become a professional musician without the confidence instilled in me by our exceptional Mount Holyoke community. “Go forward, attempt great things, accomplish great things.” What a send-off!