Music Teacher – Tui Hutton
Recollections by John Park
Many of the children who grew up in the Kaikorai area would have learned to play the piano at the Roslyn School of Music. The tutor was Tui Hutton, who lived with her mother in a brick house on the south eastern corner of Ann Street and Hereford Street. Her studio was in a bay villa house next door in Ann Street.
Tui Hutton was a wonderful teacher. Her waiting room was on the left of the front door, and Tui being a cat lover–from memory, she had several–there were books about cats for early pupils to read. One I remember was Paul Gallico’s “Thomasina.” The bay-windowed studio with the fine upright piano was on the right.
Of course we always addressed Tui as “Miss Hutton.” She was quite a flamboyant dresser with large-patterned blouses and smocks, plenty of jewellery–necklaces, bangles, and rings–heavy eye make-up, and had reddish (dyed) hair. I also remember the “liver” spots on her hands. She used quite a strong perfume–when I asked her once, she told me it was sandalwood.
I was taught by Tui from the age of eight (in 1949) until I was 13– when my father decided that he had enough of the “milksop pieces” I was bringing home, and sent me to Alan Meldrum in York Place instead. At the time she would have been in her early-to-mid fifties, I should think. She was a very patient teacher, and under her tuition I progressed through the Royal School of Music Grades I-IV examinations in both theory and practical. As well as teaching the piano, she encouraged her pupils to undertake assignments on the lives of famous composers, for which the best were awarded prizes of hard-covered books from the “The Young Composers” series, such as “The Young Mozart,” etc.
The afternoon parties she held for her pupils at the end of the year were terrific. Apart from the waiting room and studio, the rest of the villa was largely unfurnished. In the living room we would play Musical Chairs, and Postman’s Knock, while the farther reaches of the house had wardrobes and large cupboards, ideal for hiding in, when playing Sardines.
When I was about 12 (I think) Tui married a Mr Todd. I have been told that she carried on teaching until well into her nineties. I believe she died after a fire in her house, some time in the 1990s–but someone else may have details of this.
The Roslyn School of Music was originally situated in the ‘triangular’ area of shops in Highgate until the demise of the cable cars. At that time the buildings in that ‘centre island’ were demolished to make way for development of the Stuart Street Extension and the Highgate bridge. Miss Hutton was listed in that location in 1936 Stones Street Directory.
(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)