As a young girl, my mother was insistent that I take piano lessons. She was a terrific pianist but she claimed she didn't have the patience to teach me herself. So she hired the devil instead.
Ms. Petrov was not actually the devil. She was a very small and very angry Russian woman who gave lessons to half the kids in the neighborhood. Most of the kids gave it up after one lesson, but the kids who stuck with it were good. Really good. Maybe there was something to her teaching methods after all.
In our first lesson together, Ms. Petrov told me I had the perfect hands for piano. Long fingers and strong knuckles. This may have been the only compliment she ever gave me.
Every mistake I made, she would rap my knuckles with a small wooden ruler. I was convinced this was child abuse but my mother said she was a traditionalist and I should toughen up.