Laine Nancy

Nancy Laine

Interview with Nancy Laine

By Mary Williams

Q. For those who don’t know you well, tell us about your family and how you got started in music.

A: I grew up in Oak Cliff with 3 younger brothers. After first grade, I started taking piano lessons with Betty Zumwalt, who lived behind the alley. I was her first student, and I had really long lessons, probably because my mom was watching her 3 younger kids while she taught me. Soon my best friend (also named Nancy) also started taking with Betty. We got to learn all the fun pieces (Alley Cat, Third Man Theme, 76 Trombones, etc.), and we frequently got to perform during “auditorium class” in elementary school. When I was in 5th grade, we moved, and I started taking with Bea Carney (remember her from Mu Phi?) and eventually from Lois Nielson. I started accompanying band friends for Solo & Ensemble in junior high, as well as accompanying the choir and the annual musicals. I remember looking at the score for Brigadoon and remarking to my year-older mentor, “There’s no way I can learn all those notes.” She gave me my first lesson in sight-reading – “you just figure out which notes are most important and play those.” (These days, it seems like adults do most of the accompanying in schools. While I love accompanying, I sometimes wonder if I’m not cheating some student out of an invaluable learning experience.)

Q: You are a pianist and an organist. Do you have a preference on what you play?

A: I love the instant response I know that I’ll get when I play a piano. But I also love the great sounds that can come from the organ (assuming I’ve set it up correctly and press the right buttons!) For most of my life, I considered myself a pianist playing the organ. It wasn’t until I moved to San Antonio that I really got serious about learning the organ. A friend encouraged me to join AGO (American Guild of Organists) and work on certification.

Q: When did you join the Dallas Alumni Chapter and what has this association meant to you?

A: After I graduated from SMU, I moved to Duncanville and began teaching piano. I met Tena Hehn through Dallas Music Teachers Association. It wasn’t long until Tena invited me to a Mu Phi meeting. I already knew some of the alumni who had helped with the Mu Chi chapter (Edie Pfautsch, Frances Stuart, etc.), so I agreed to tag along. I remember being inspired that these “old” people (who I’m sure were much younger than I am now!) still enjoyed making music together. In particular, I remember Katharine Riddle and Tennie Lengel playing together at least once a year. I can’t think of a better way than being a Mu Phi to keep music, friendship, and harmony as integral parts of my life!

Q: You have been president of the Dallas chapter, the San Antonio chapter, and now the Dallas chapter again. First of all – thank you, thank you! for taking this office. What do you see as the most rewarding parts of leadership in MPE and the most frustrating parts?

A: The most rewarding part is definitely the life-long friendships with people who share the love of music. It’s funny that being a Mu Phi is one of the things that helped me decide to move to San Antonio in 2000. Our beloved Wynona Lipsett, who was International President at the time, had decided to have the 2001 convention in San Antonio, even though there was no local alumni chapter. I had a nice promotion offer in San Antonio with Southwestern Bell, and I was also intrigued by the possibility of starting an alumni chapter to help host the convention. Our first get-together was during the TMEA convention in 2000. What fun we had building friendships in a new chapter and working toward that convention!

As far as frustration, COVID restrictions rank on up there. I’m thrilled that we were able to get going virtually. It’s been so fun getting back together in person this fall, but it looks like we may have to start over again for a while.

Q: You had another part of your life with a career at Southwestern Bell in Dallas and in San Antonio. What did you do for this company and what did it do for you?

A: Yes, I spent 40 years at Southwestern Bell/AT&T. I started with a summer job (thanks to my Dad, who also worked at SWBT over 40 years) as a PBX traffic engineer. I spent many years in Forecasting (predicting growth in various areas). The most fun positions I had were in Marketing, where I got to be creative with various programs. Even at work, I found ways to use music. I played piano for 25 years for the Bell Singers, a group of employees who practiced at noon and sang regularly at nursing homes and community events. When I moved back to Dallas in 2015, the group no longer existed, so we started it again just in time for Christmas caroling. My daughter now works for AT&T, so the company is certainly woven into our family.

Q: What other interests do you have besides music? How do you like to spend your time?

A: Well, it seems like music is in almost everything I do these days. I lead 30 minutes of singing at Treasured Times, a weekly Alzheimer’s respite program at church. It’s so rewarding to see some people, who seemingly can’t remember anything, start singing along! We have a different theme each week (like Football or Big Band or Halloween), so it keeps me on my toes coming up with music to use! Mom and I also participate in Seniors on Stage, who do little skits (with lots of singing) weekly at various nursing homes.

Q: What are you most proud of in your life?

A: My two children. Chris is a wonderful classical guitarist (although he still also does the hard rock bit on occasion!). Laura is an engineer at AT&T, but also can still play every clarinet piece she ever learned without music. (How come both of my kids got such good ears, but I’m lost without a musical score?!)

Q: What else we should know about you?

A: Maybe that I’m a bit long-winded?

Thank you Nancy!

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