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Piano therapy

Elda Lindquist plays the piano four or five times a day. A year ago, she retired after teaching hundreds of students.

The piano in Elda Lindquist's living room is more than an instrument. It's history. It's therapy. It's her childhood. It's a constant reminder of her mother's love and influence. And it's what made her the woman she is today - an accomplished musician who has instilled her love of music into hundreds of others.

Music has always been a part of Lindquist's life. She was born to musical parents. Her mother played the piano by ear and her father loved to dance the jig. Her parents would entertain the family and the neighbors with their music. Each spring and fall, Lindquist's father would take the family to a barn dance.

"Mom would hear the music and go home and play," Lindquist reminisced.

When Lindquist was 11, the family moved to Osakis and she took her first piano lessons.

"If I had a good lesson, she [the teacher] would go down in the cellar and bring up homemade wine in a little glass the size of a thimble," she said with a laugh. "She was a fun lady!"

Times were tough though, so Lindquist only took lessons for a couple years. But she continued to study the piano books and teach herself. A few years later, she took lessons from Ruth Tangen from Alexandria.

In 1949, she got married and moved to Garfield. There she taught her first lesson, encouraged by Tangen. The Lindquists eventually moved to Alexandria, where she continued teaching from her home. When her husband died in 1984, she started giving lessons at Carlson Music.

Teaching never seemed like a job to Lindquist. It was such a pleasure that she didn't retire until a year ago, at age 83.

"I just loved teaching," she said. "It was the highlight of my day."

Throughout her career, Lindquist can only guess that she has taught about 1,000 students - ranging in age from 3 to 75. Many of her students took lessons from when they started school to when they graduated. A few years ago, she discovered that a student she had many years ago went on to play at Carnegie Hall, while a more recent pupil attended Juilliard.

"I was their start," she said. "It's nice to know that your kids have gone on."

Lindquist made sure all her students had an opportunity to showcase their musical talents in front of other people during recitals and contests. She was an active member of the Minnesota Federation of Music Clubs and the Minnesota Music Teachers Association. She was on the state board for both organizations and never missed a meeting. She also belonged to the Euterpean Music Club, a "big part of her life."

Although she is retired from teaching, the piano is the focus of her living room and is her pride and joy - for more reasons than the enjoyment she derives from playing it.

It's the piano on which she first developed her love of music - the same piano that was in her home growing up. As she sits and plays today, she can still hear the hymns and barn dance songs her mother played by ear. She can still hear those magical notes and feel the joy her father brought into the room as he danced the jig.

"My mom wanted me to have this piano," she said. "She had it when she was a little girl."

To this day, Lindquist still plays that piano four or five times a day and can't imagine her life without music.

"After I lost my husband, it was a real outlet," she said. "I would get up in the middle of the night and play instead of cry."

"If you're sad, it's therapy. If you're glad it's therapy," she concluded. "The world is a better place to live because of music."