copyright 2000
Cleveland Chapter
American Guild of Organists

Who Can Pronounce a Name Like That?

In case you're wondering, my formal name is pronounced as if it were Michelle--only it's Michon. Then there's the my married last name; it's pronounced "Cook". I can always tell when my name is about to be read aloud because there's a LONG pause. I answer to Missy. I also hate talking about myself but here goes.

All of us love music. We can't help it. It's part of our soul. When I was young, I remember "playing" on the radiator beneath the window. I would either use the music within me or listen to the radio. Either way, I was happiest "fingering" the radiator My parents wondered if I'd like piano lessons. They enrolled me in the B-W children's program when I was 5. I loved it. The next year, I was enrolled in the B-W Conservatory of Music under Prof. Margaret Schluer. I loved that too. My very first piano recital was in Kulas Auditorium at B-W.

In elementary school, I accompanied the school choir and played for recitals and Sunday School. By 8th grade, I was playing Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu and encountering problems. I have small hands. My teacher told me that I could never do justice to the "war horses" like Grieg, etc because my span was so small. For years, she had worked me with exercises to widen my reach. It remains an octave and a note to this day. Finally, I had to make a choice: piano (which I loved) or grades. I picked grades and discontinued piano lessons in the 10th grade.

I was graduated with a a B.S. in Chemistry from Capital University. My work experience was first with NASA and then with Lubrizol Corp. as their Organic Nomenclature expert. They then appointed me as Head of their Chemical Library and I also translated French and German. I retired to have children.

One day, while sitting in church, the music began to irritate me. The organist played every pedal note staccato. Finally, I turned to my husband and said: "I can do better than that!" He commented: "Why don't you?" When I replied that I didn't know how to play the pedals, he said to take lessons, so I did. Jim Hawkins, another AGO member, at the Willoughby School of Fine Arts was my organ teacher for 10years and remains a dear friend. I began to substitute and loved it for 16 years. I finally relented and now take permanent positions. Currently, I'm organist with Lyndhurst Community Presbyterian church under Dr. Harry W. Eberts Jr.

Because of our two sons, involvement with school was a "must". I am pleased to have received various honors, including the Ohio PTA Honorary Life Membership (the PTA's highest honor). I was also named Lake County's PTA Volunteer of the Year from among 52 different PTA's. Currently, I'm a 10-year member of the Willoughby-Eastlake Board of Education, and am serving my 6th consecutive year as President. I serve on the Board of Directors of the W-E School of Licensed Practical Nursing and am a charter trustee of the W-E Schools Foundation. Other interests include the YMCA, Lake County League of Women Voters, Willoughby South Instrumental Music Boosters, Willoughby Hills Historical Society, and of course, the AGO.

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