"Mr. Heifetz wishes to relay that your daughter, Marjorie, has more than her share of musical talent."
My mother's chest heaved as she emitted a long, grateful sigh. "Oh, thank goodness. This is what I've tried to tell my husband, John, over and over again. You know, sometimes he thinks I'm a little nutty for pushing our daughter."
"Yes, well, lack of talent is not the issue, Mrs. Kransberg."
My mother inclined forward, the way a deaf person might do to read lips.
Mr. Heifetz's assistant persevered. "Your daughter has an excellent chance of being accepted into the class—as early as the fall—but Mr. Heifetz has stipulated certain conditions."
"Oh," said my mother. Her back stiffened. "What are the conditions?"
Mrs. Reynolds shot me a glance.
"Well, for one, Marjorie's performance engagements must be canceled. Absolutely. No more concerts at this time, at least for the duration of her studies here."
"Pardon me?" asked my mother. She pointed to her right ear hidden underneath the nylon wig. "I seem to have a little trouble hearing these days, Mrs. Reynolds. Could you repeat what you just said, and speak a bit louder?"
"Why, certainly, Mrs. Kransberg."
Mrs. Reynolds raised her voice to a mezzo forte, and wagged her finger.
"No more concerts at this time for your Marjorie. She's far too young, and might be at risk for the devastating consequences of exploitation."
"What about solo competitions and youth orchestral programs?"
Mrs. Reynolds shook her head, no.
"Summer music camps?"
"Mr. Heifetz will not allow them. They get in the way of proper training."
My mother clutched her navy blue pocketbook, now cluttered with pamphlets and brochures, and groped for words. "Thank you for that information."
"There's more," said Mrs. Reynolds.
"Claire Hodgkins, Claire Hodgkins," said my mother, fingering her golden wig. "Where do I know that name? It sounds so familiar—"
"Well," said Mrs. Reynolds. "Claire was one of Mr. Heifetz's first pupils, along with Carol Sindell, Varoujan Kodjian, Adam Gorski, and Erick Friedman. You may have heard and watched her on the masterclass episodes which were aired on public television."
"Oooh," said my mother. "Is she tall and slim with blond hair?"
"That's her," said Mrs. Reynolds with a nod. "Claire performed Chausson's 'Poeme' on the series."
"I was quite taken with her," said my mother. "A beautiful woman. She's so slender, and her playing is understated in its elegance."
"Yes," agreed Mrs. Reynolds. There was a pause as my mother pondered Jascha Heifetz's requirements.
"Now, Mrs. Kransberg, I know you have a great deal of thinking to do. The masterclass meets twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. The sessions are lengthy—five hours each. If your daughter makes it into the class after Claire's approval, she'll need to attend a unique school, or alternative program, where she can work independently. I have some resources for you to look into, such as the Hollywood Professional School. I must warn you, however, that Marjorie might possibly be the youngest of the eight or ten students. The others in the class are college age and older. Your family may need to relocate, yes? So, I expect you'll need to confer with your husband."
My mother nodded in agreement. I couldn't make out what she said about my father, as she lowered her voice.
"But what a wonderful experience to look forward to, assuming all goes well," said Mrs. Reynolds.
My mother peered over her glasses and cast a cautious glance at me and then Mrs. Reynolds. How might she broach the topic of relocation with my father, and avert a temper tantrum?
"Tell me more about your husband, Mrs. Kransberg. What does he desire for his daughter's future?"
Claire Hodgkins in Heifetz Masterclass in 1960s