AUSTIN -- Many of you have heard the saying, "Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life." One Austin piano teacher says that's been her case for 81 years and counting.
With ease and grace, Ruth Pignotti plays through Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue.
"It's my very favorite piece!" she said.
She's played the piano for nearly nine decades, and she's not stopping any time soon.
"If you don't play, it's gone! It's use it or lose it, that thing," she said.
This week she turns 93 years old. She's been teaching lessons for more than 81 years.
"I'm not stopping. No, I'm not stopping," Pignotti laughed.
It's all she's known since she was 12, playing through the Depression and World War II.
"This is gonna feel, at the beginning, like a cowboy story," she said. "Texas at the Staffle Feed and Grain Company."
That's where she met her teacher, a Russian pianist.
"By the time I was about 12 years old, I was probably playing at a collegiate level," Pignotti said. "She said, 'You can be my assistant teacher.' And here I was, I was 12 years old. That was 81 years ago."
In college she majored in piano and bassoon, then began the job hunt.
"I had my choice of any place, any place I tried I got," she said.
She taught at the University of Arkansas, Baylor and The University of Texas.
"That's where I met my husband, who was a violinist," she said.
Pignotti uses music in every aspect of her life. She even started Austin Angel Fish, a synchronized swimming team.
"Synchronized swimming is a wonderful way of bringing your music to your physical sport," she said. "It's a fantastic thing to do."
Students of all ages visit the Pignotti Music Studio inside her Northwest Austin home for weekly lessons, where they learn more than just how to play.
"We talk about the composers, and we talk about what was happening at the time," she said, showing KVUE pictures of the composers on her wall. "We talk about how the piano developed and so on. The students know these things."
Even as she approaches another birthday, "retirement" isn't part of her vocabulary.
"It's just my life. It's what it is. I can't imagine not having it. If I stop playing the piano, what would I do?" she said. "It's like being on a merry-go-round. I can't get off. I like it, though."