A couple of nights back, my teacher and I went out for a few drinks. There was a new beer on tap at our favorite beer drinking joint that he wanted to try, and I’m always game to tag along. If you’re sensing a pattern in our friendship, you’re not imagining things.
One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is because I knew that the truly unique thing about my situation is my relationship with my teacher. There are a lot of late starters on piano. There are a lot of people for whom piano is a second instrument. But for most people, their teacher is not their best friend.
For most people, their teacher is someone who they really only know in their capacity as a professional musician. You only see them at university, or at their studio, or at recitals/concerts. Maybe you see them perform or perform with them. Maybe you have lunch together. Maybe you might have a drink after a concert. And odds are, you didn’t know them much before you started taking lessons with them, and you don’t hang out with them socially.
But my teacher and I have been friends for most of our undergraduate time together. We’ve performed together. We’ve worked side by side in the trenches of opera and musicals. He comes and stays at my house. We go drinking together. Go camping on the beach. We trade literature. We talk composing and writing. He helps me cook Christmas dinner. And he practices recital rep on my piano.
I say all this because, while we were out drinking last night, we got to talking about another student of his (also a friend of mine), and over the course of the conversation, he lifted the curtain a bit on his method of teaching. It’s a glimpse I don’t imagine many students get. Sure, you can talk teaching theory all you want, but to have your teacher pretty much say, “This is how I’m teaching you, and this is why.” is pretty special.
Anyway, I’m not really sure where I was going with this. I guess I was just reminded of how unique my situation is. And how fortunate I am to have such a talented and generous friend. Music is the most important thing to him. Hang around him five minutes and you’ll figure that out. And to know that he’s freely sharing that gift with me is something I will treasure.