Sic transit gloria mundi (remembering music teachers of yore)

Edited: November 30, 2017, 4:57 PM · Inspired by the discussions around an ideal teacher–and grieving a venerable performer from the music community of my childhood–I blogged.

Tell me about the music community that launched you. Who were your role models? Who inspired you? Whom do you miss, mourn?

Replies (8)

November 30, 2017, 4:00 PM · Could you please give this thread a more relevant title? I had to read the content in order to decide whether I would reply or not. To answer your question, I was an avid fan of instrumental performance since I can remember. My parents bought a keyboard before I was born (don't remember why). Then, I began music lessons during my preschool years, and have been an avid musician ever since. I thank my parents for supporting my love of music by giving me the opportunities to perform, practice and utilize good instruments. I also thank my family and friends for recognizing my musical abilities. I also thank my music teachers for helping me become a better musician. I feel fortunate to be studying at a community music school with lots of ensemble playing opportunities.
November 30, 2017, 4:16 PM · The "music community" of my early childhood was my family. My dad played the piano and my older brothers played instruments too. Aside from that there was really very little. We drove 20 minutes to my violin lesson and we drove home. There was a "string class" in elementary school for a couple of years, but there were only a few kids and it fizzled. I joined a community orchestra at the age of 12 but the only "community" there was my brother and an older boy who both played the cello. We did our best to misbehave during the break, but we weren't very good at it.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 4:18 PM · Double post, sorry. By the way, I love the title of your thread (who knew Latin could be click bait!), but I've always wanted to know: Who is Gloria Mundi and why does she get the blame for all of the Sic Transit?
Edited: December 3, 2017, 8:15 AM · For those who perhaps don't know, "sic transit gloria mundi" means "so passes the glory of the world". Btw, don't believe everything that Google Translate tells you - it ignored "transit"!

@Paul, "Gloria Mundi" was one of the more venerable jokes in my Latin class at school (along with "Caesar adsum jam forte"*), but when I was a lad there was a girl with the name Gloria Monday living near us.

*an English translation being: "Caesar, I am here now by chance".

December 1, 2017, 8:27 AM · My childhood teacher passed away four years ago. My mother told me, as she would see him from time to time in town and then saw his obituary in the local paper. It is only this past week that I feel a true sense of loss with his passing - for he always told me that if I ever returned to playing, or wanted a lesson when I was home from college/wherever, he would make himself available to me. I am sad that I missed that opportunity to spend a little more time with the man that I saw every Sunday for four-plus years.

My community was school orchestra, my parents, my teachers (in school, and two private teachers), along with listening to the radio and picking up classical music CDs whenever I could find them. I remember going to the NY Phil's open rehearsal in high school, finding the just right spot, and being enamored. My high school orchestra teacher came and sat next to me and we listened and listened. I don't remember what we talked about when the rehearsal had moments where one could talk, but I remember feeling really lucky to be there.

I don't recall there being a community orchestra in my area growing up, I'd probably have joined.

My first introduction to the violin was in third grade when we got to pick our instruments for the remainder of our time in elementary/middle/secondary school. So I must thank my elementary school music teacher for putting a violin in my hands, it truly was the only instrument that felt right. (And funnily enough, or sadly for my sister, two years later: a violin was put into her hands because the same teacher said that I was "talented" and she must be too! My sister wanted to play the flute or the piano, her talent was being able to play by ear.)

It goes without saying that I thank my husband, family, friends and current teacher for all of their encouragement and wisdom. For without them, I'm sure to have given up in this first year of being an adult returner. And my neighbors who have yet to complain about the racket that I cause with my unmuted violin on a daily basis. I haven't joined an ensemble or anything like that yet, but maybe one day... would be nice to have a pianist friend!

Edited: December 1, 2017, 12:38 PM · A really good title, and highly appropriate. I remember all my early teachers well, but especially a remarkably fierce old-school guy from Bulgaria, who yelled at me if I ever came to a lesson without having practiced for two hours each day. At the age of 13, this meant it would happen almost every week. My parents had to sign a sheet. No coddling. I didn't really mind his flashes of temper, as somehow I sensed that he liked me, and he certainly had a heart of gold. It was the teaching style in the 1950s. This was at the conservatory in Toronto. I was only there for a year. He was a great teacher, and I am still grateful for the discipline it instilled in me. It spills outward from violin to other parts of life.
Edited: December 1, 2017, 3:29 PM · Parker, that's fantastic. I bet you made a lot of progress that year.

Pamela, I'm sorry to hear about your childhood teacher. How lovely that he made himself available like that.

Trevor and Paul: semper ubi sub ubi! My husband's family had a similar thing going: all four kids played instruments (three violinist, one cellist). I think their dad was hoping one would switch to viola but it never happened. Unlike my parents (who were modest to a fault), his parents were fond of showing of their kids' prowess and consistently made them perform for any and every guest at their house. To this day, we are often roped into impromptu concerts when we go visit for holidays. This embarrassment paid dividends for my siblings-in-law, however, as they seem utterly lacking self-consciousness/stage fright when performing. Do your brothers still play? Are they nearby?

Ella, it sounds as though you've been fortunate in the support and opportunities you've been offered. It's lovely that you are cognizant of that.

I'm always amazed and grateful when I realize how financially strapped my parents were, back when we were young. I think they had almost no savings. We bought food from grocery outlets and clothes from a thrift store. We never went on vacation. And yet...they found the money for private lessons with the best teachers in town, and sent me to music camp for three summers. All four of us went to private colleges and even given the generous financial aid we received, I know it was still really hard for my folks.

I'm also grateful for the holistic approach my teachers had to their students. One of them saw me through my first heartbreak. Another played for our wedding. The first teacher, God bless her, conducted our junior youth orchestra and took the whole lot of us to amusement parks each year, a feat which required an insane amount of wrangling and parental support and long drives in the night in a rented minivan. I think collectively these three spoiled me for every future teacher relationship. :-/

We didn't have a strings program in our schools so everything happened through private lessons. The local youth orchestra that I joined in high school was pretty bad, in hindsight, but we had a lot of fun. Our conductor was a warm-hearted kook. We were all a little scared of her–-she had a habit of cold-calling sections who were unprepared to play, and making us perform--but she was also hilarious and a great teacher. "You should be memorizing your parts!" was her refrain to anyone who was talking while she rehearsed a subset of the group. She told us that as musicians, our wardrobes should be mostly black. Despite our comparative lack of chops/experience, she proudly eschewed arrangements and pushed us through some tricky pieces, singing loudly during missed entrances.

December 1, 2017, 4:29 PM · Pamela a couple of years ago I reconnected with as many of my old music teachers as I could find. It was worthwhile. Facebook is great for that.


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