She was educated at Collegiate Girls’ High School in Port Elizabeth and afterwards at Rustenburg Girls High in Cape Town. Her father was a civil engineer and an amateur organist and pianist. Her mother was also musical and took piano lessons with Doris Lardner at the South African College of Music in Cape Town.
As a student registered for BMus at UCT she took piano as first subject. When her left hand was permanently damaged in a car accident that occurred while returning from a rugby match with her boyfriend, she switched to singing as her main subject. She studied with Ernest Dennis and Adelheid Armhold, obtaining Teachers and Performers Licentiate Diplomas from Unisa and UCT. She started out as a music teacher at various primary schools, but in 1949 she was appointed to teach at Rustenburg Girls High where she stayed until 1954. She taught piano, theory and aural training and worked for the SABC for a year as music programme compiler. It was during this period that she was married to Alfred Garson, also a musician. In 1954, she joined the staff of the UCT Faculty of Music as a teacher of singing and piano. She covered choral conducting and acted as an accompanist.