By Anne Holzman
Piano teacher and church organist Jean Krinke has St. Anthony Park roots that reach deep and wide.
She married a neighborhood boy, moved in with him on his childhood street and raised five children. She gave countless piano lessons and played the organ at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ for some 30 years.
When the former Linnea Home on Como Avenue was converted to condominiums, Krinke saw an opportunity. She and her husband, Lambert Krinke, bought two units — one to live in, and the other for a piano studio. They moved in 2007 and Jean continues to teach today.
The studio contains two pianos made by Steinway. Much of her journey has involved her favorite piano maker, Krinke said.
In October, Krinke traveled to New York to be inducted into the Steinway Hall of Fame.
Schmitt Music sales representative Sue Freeman Dopp nominated Krinke for the honor and traveled with her to New York. The two toured the Steinway factory in Queens, visited the showroom in Manhattan and enjoyed a banquet with other honorees.
Dopp said the company holds the Hall of Fame awards every other year and asks sales representatives to nominate “a teacher who is well established and has very high standards for teaching to align with the high standards that Steinway has.” She said the award also recognizes “someone who values the Steinway brand.”
Born Jean Titus, Krinke grew up in St. Ansgar, Iowa, and took lessons half an hour away in Mason City during junior high and high school.
Music was a family affair: Jean’s mother played piano and organ while her father played clarinet and saxophone. They also ran an accordion studio, and that was Jean’s first instrument, at age four or five, she said. Later she learned clarinet and alto sax.
Jean studied piano and organ at Eastman Conservatory in Rochester, New York, where her accordion experience came in handy as she was hired to run an accordion band. Meanwhile, her father joined the faculty of Concordia College in St. Paul and her parents moved.
She has two siblings, a sister who is also a pianist and organist, and a brother who has experimented with many instruments and currently plays electric bass in a country-western band.
Back home with her parents in St. Paul after graduation, Jean met and married Lambert Krinke, who had grown up on Scudder Street in St. Anthony Park. In 1966, they bought the house next door, where they raised five children. Two daughters still live in the neighborhood with their families.
In addition to teaching and playing organ at St. Anthony Park UCC, Krinke also took piano and organ lessons at the University of Minnesota for many years to keep improving her own skills.
Jean has long been active in the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, serving on committees and encouraging students to participate in annual theory and performance competitions.
She spoke proudly of her participation in developing exam materials for Minnesota. “Other states use us as a resource,” she said.
As a member of a second professional organization, the National Federation of Music Clubs, Krinke helps with an annual piano festival offered by the Burnsville chapter.
Krinke shared fond memories of her many piano students from decades of teaching. She said she currently has a student whose father she once taught. She gets together with another former student to play duets for fun.
“I invest a lot in my students, and my students invest a lot in me,” she said. “When families come in, I feel connected.”
Anne Holzman is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.
Photo cutline: Jean Krinke, a long-time piano teacher, was recently inducted into the Steinway Hall of Fame. Photo by Anne Holzman.