There is no question, in this day and age when people write books about anything and everything that crosses their minds, that Mitzi DeWhitt is qualified to be a writer of books about music. Not only has she taught piano, theory, pedagogy, and composition, and performed solo and with orchestras; she has also been organist at several large churches, was pianist in a performing jazz combo, and worked as a paid professional accompanist.
As a performer, composer, and teacher of music for over forty years, she knows about music. But knowing about a subject is not the same as understanding it. Mitzi DeWhitt understands music in a way few people do. That fact will become apparent as soon as anyone begins to read her books.
The words “never a dull moment” are apropos for this author, who is also a wife, mother, and great-grandmother, and currently serves as the State Certification Chair for the Music Teachers’ National Association (she holds the Permanent Professional Certificates in Piano, in Theory, and in Music History, having been nationally certified in those areas since 1985). She is a frequent adjudicator at many auditions, maintains a private music studio of about fifty students in the Wilmington area, and continues to be engaged in writing.
With the support of her scientist-husband of almost fifty years, she has published five books, with several more currently “works-in-progress.” Each of her books contains groundbreaking information regarding the two very different and complex musical systems, the Pythagorean and the Just. These musical systems serve as the underlying foundation for much more than anyone might at first suspect. Again, the facts will become apparent as one reads her material.
The Oklahoma native gave her first solo piano performance at the age of four on an Oklahoma City radio station. For three consecutive years (1955-57) she was winner of both State and National Federation Junior Composition Contests, and was selected to be a research subject in a nationwide project on Gifted Children in Music. To be a recognized composer, however, was never in her plans until, as an adult, taking a bet from a neighbor, she submitted a quickly-penned set of Piano Variation, titled “Time Skeins in Twelve Tones,” for which she was named “American Composer of the Year” by the National Federation of Music Clubs in 1984.
After completion of graduate school, having been awarded dual degrees in both piano performance and music theory, she lived in Wichita, Kansas in the early ‘70’s, where she was employed at the Olive Garvey Center for Synergistic Studies. Here, she conducted research on the effects of music in reaching and exploring non-ordinary levels of human consciousness, and experienced, first-hand, some individuals (for example, Rolling Thunder, the Hopi medicine man) who demonstrated amazing paranormal abilities. During this time, she was introduced to many esoteric ideas, including those of Gurdjieff, and began the practices of “self-observation” and daily meditation.
The move to Houston, brought about by her husband’s job transfer, gave her the fortunate opportunity to be Movements pianist for the Foundation-based Work group there. Her theoretical proclivities led to an analysis of some of the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music, in which she uncovered many intriguing musical and mathematical properties. The subsequent transfer to Wilmington (again brought about by her husband’s work with Conoco/duPont) allowed her to continue as Movements pianist, not only in nearby Philadelphia, but also in New York at the Gurdjieff Foundation, where she also attended weekly meetings.
Her present books owe a huge debt to the penetrating influences of the Work ideas. In turn, and as a way of repaying the debt, her books are able to shed penetrating light on some of the otherwise unfathomable mysteries found in Gurdjieff’s writings. The proofs of this statement are apparent as one reads her books.