Pat Todd started piano lessons with her Grandmother Margaret Garrity in Munhall, Pennsylvania, at the age of five. She adored her grandmother, and was eager to please her. As a reward for a lesson well played, Margaret would reach into her music cabinet and pull out the latest edition of Etude, the piano teacher’s magazine, and open it to the back page — the duet. Pat ALWAYS played the left hand, accompanying the soloist, and as a result became an accomplished sight-reader. By the time Pat was 10, she was playing for everyone to sing Christmas carols at the Garrity annual party.
At 12 she accompanied the Homeville Firemen’s Annual Show. In Pittsburgh she accompanied Taylor Alderdyce High School modern dance class instead of participating in gym classes, and accompanied a community chorus in Lincoln Place.
At Penn State, where she majored in mathematics, she accompanied rehearsals and performances for Thespians for eight shows, including Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun, Pajama Game, and Kiss Me Kate. After college she accompanied community theater shows such as Gypsy.
A course in Two Piano Performance at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY introduced her to the repertoire (she had four small children, and baby sitting was provided). When she told her husband Ken how much fun it was to play two-piano music, he suggested they go shopping for a second piano. That was in 1973. From then on, her piano partners were friends and neighbors and her son Robert.
Brenda Casey and Pat shared a job for years alternating as organist for a church in Connecticut. They never met until Pat’s 60th birthday when Brenda performed a VERY funny song. (Everyone was encouraged to bring a song to the party). (Ken and Brenda were soul-mates when it came to music as they both could play any song in any key.)
Pat and Brenda started playing the two-piano music that Pat had collected over the years, and performed for the American Red Cross when Pat was Chairman of the Blood Drives. Ken was a regular donor at blood drives, and when he was turned away because he was anemic, that was the first sign of trouble — his first symptom of kidney cancer. By the time it was identified as such, it was too late. Early detection of kidney cancer is life-saving.
Not long before Ken died, Brenda and Pat performed to a standing room only crowd at the Madison Beach Club, including in the program a work Ken had written for them. They then started entertaining annually for Action to Cure Kidney Cancer — to raise awareness and to raise funds for kidney cancer research for early detection. This year they plan on playing from Boston to California.
For the past 24 years Pat has been affiliated with the 18-piece dance band Tuxedo Junction: The Sounds of Swing, as owner and director since 1996.