Girls’ Night Out Story #19: Linda Gurney

Me, My Clarinet, and God


I began my musical training early, starting piano at five years.  In fourth grade, we were to choose instruments for school orchestra, and they said I should play the violin, so I did.  I played it through high school, but I never really had a passion for it.

From my earliest days, I remember hearing the electrifying clarinet solo that opens Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” on a record that my parents would often play. Now there was an instrument that I thought could take me to the moon and back, but I was a violin player, so that was that.

Then in ninth grade, I developed a crush on Michael Z., who played clarinet in band.  This gave me renewed inspiration to play this amazing instrument. I was now making regular money as a babysitter, and decided to save enough money to buy myself a student model.

The chart I made for saving clarinet money.
The chart I made for saving clarinet money.

By tenth grade, I had bought my clarinet, and my parents supported me with private lessons.  Michael Z. had since moved out of town, but it didn’t matter.  I was totally in love with the clarinet, and my progress on it went through the roof!

My second year, I was accepted as a student of George Silfies of the St. Louis Symphony, one of the top clarinetists in the country.  After two years, Maestro Leonard Slatkin chose me over many others for the vacant spot in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra that he had founded.  An entirely new world of musical wonders had been opened up to me!

I continued my studies with Mr. Silfies at Washington University.  Halfway through college, I performed with the Youth Orchestra on their first tour to Europe, and met a cellist from the orchestra, David V, on the plane.  He asked me about the rosary I wore around my neck for a safe journey, and invited me to visit his church when we returned to the States.


I visited David’s church that fall.  He told me that it was “Reformation Sunday”, which seemed to go against how I was raised, but I went anyway.  I was amazed that people prayed without reading their prayers from books.  The hymns that they sung seemed so full of joy!

Right at that same time, someone on Washington University’s campus invited me to a Bible study in the dorms.  I thought I’d go just once to be polite. I found such sweetness in the way they would open and close the study in personal prayer, not recited prayers as I was used to. I kept coming back.

We were studying the “Promises of God” as found in the Scriptures, and it wasn’t long before I learned that I could be assured of my salvation once and for all, instead of coming back to my church again and again for refills of “sanctifying grace”.  I learned a sweet hymn, “Jesus Paid it All”.

Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

I was stunned to learn this simple, beautiful truth, yet it all made perfect sense to me.

I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have a career in musical performance on both piano and clarinet. Both my sons now perform with me as a trio in professional settings, which is a dream come true. But the biggest blessing of all is that my pursuit of music also led to me to find my Savior, Jesus Christ!

Playing with my two sons.

Musically yours – and His,

IMG_0045I’ve been widowed for nine years and am blessed with three children:  Olivia (married to Tom), Christopher (married to Chelsea), and Andrew, a junior at Webster University.I’ve been a professional pianist and clarinetist in the St. Louis area for over 40 years and am so grateful to be a musician. It gives me countless opportunities to connect with people in any situation where you can find live music! I also use my music as a hospice volunteer at St. Anthony’s Hospice House, most often for family and friends of the patients, but occasionally for the patients themselves.This year, for the first time, I’ve shown my photographs and pencil sketches in some juried art exhibits (Soulard Art Gallery). A year ago, I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. The Lord is my Shepherd!

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3 thoughts on “Girls’ Night Out Story #19: Linda Gurney

  1. Ifeoma Samuel October 20, 2015 / 12:48 am

    Wow simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing your photos and your story. I am not good on instruments but I admire those who can though.
    Sweet Blessings to you Oliver and Karen


    • Linda Gurney November 9, 2015 / 12:21 am

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment! So greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

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