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David Russell

Love and Gardenias: A Legacy

June 12, 2007 at 4:01 PM


Her name is Anna Yianitsas Tringas. She is my first violin teacher, and at age 91 still maintains a full studio of violin students in Pensacola, Florida.


I remember when my father took me to her home for the first time to introduce me to her. I recall that he seemed a little nervous standing at her door. I later understood why, when during our visit he asked her if she would consider taking me on as one of her students.

Anna Tringas had a huge reputation in our town. She was known to be no-nonsense, very direct and prone to "fire" students who did not practice.She was tough, demanding and had unquestionable authority. As I learned later, she also has a heart of pure gold.

She teaches in a studio in her very large home overlooking the scenic Bayou Texar, surrounded by twisted Live Oak trees with low-hanging Spanish moss decorating them. The foyer outside her studio is decorated with many Persian rugs, sculptures which reveal her refined tastes, books on the foundation of Western Civilization and hundreds of violin-related "artworks" created by her adoring students over her more than 60-year career.(Most memorable is the taxidermy frog, stiffly mounted to a piece of wood, playing a glued-on violin!-it still gets smiles).

I remember walking up the steps to her studio door as a young student,full of awe. The combination of the house, the artwork, the Persian rugs,and the presence of our distinguished teacher made her students feel they were entering a special place worthy of reverence and respect. (In fact, we were!) We would quietly walk up those steps, meet the wonderful aroma of gardenias growing in the manicured garden outside, open the door, and step into a very,very special place...

It is impossible to fully describe what has transpired in her studio over the years. There, lives have been forever changed. Doorways to the world at large have been opened, opportunities for personal growth have been abundantly presented, love for the violin, music,art,and Beauty in general has been instilled in young lives.

Overshadowing all of this though, is the love (sometimes tough!)she showers on her students--and the love we all have for her in return.

Today, I am sometimes confronted by the difficulties and frustrations of a high-level violin teaching career. Politics, ambition run amok, insincere motives, power dynasties...
its almost enough to make me falter....

Then, I remember the sweet aroma of gardenias...

Mrs. Tringas, I am grateful.

From Donna Clegg
Posted on June 12, 2007 at 7:10 PM
What a moving tribute. She sounds like a wonderful woman and teacher.
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on June 12, 2007 at 9:51 PM
I forgot you're on vacation in Florida. Hope that is a nice getaway for you.

Teachers are very important, and can totally shape your life. I think we all hope that we can have such an affect as this lady has had on you.

From Samuel Thompson
Posted on June 13, 2007 at 3:58 PM
Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute as well as a very honest glimpse into your world.

Samuel Thompson

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