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Laurie Trlak

Looking Back

January 1, 2011 at 9:57 PM

At the beginning of this new year I find myself looking back and reflecting, as many do, on the past year, and what it has brought, and on my hopes and dreams for the future. As we get older our dreams sometimes seem more limited - at least that is true for some of us - but perhaps that is only because our vision becomes more limited. When we are young, the future is filled with limitless possibilities, and we feel indestructible. In youth most of us can't imagine a future affected by misfortune or circumstance; we feel as though life will go along as it always has, smooth sailing and fair winds. But life has a funny way of happening when you least expect it, so I guess I should count myself among the fortunate because even though life has dealt me some tough blows, I've held onto my dreams. Oh, sure, I've had to amend them somewhat; reality is what it is. I'm not 20 anymore - I'm a grandmother! But that doesn't mean that I have to wither away. I'm still relatively young, and in spite of an illness that at one time might have meant confinement to a wheelchair, I'm able to maintain a pretty active life. In fact I'm back in school, studying health care administration now, and I expect to graduate next year. And I continue to play my violin at the nursing home once a month, and to be active in my church and in my local music club chapter. Oh, I get tired, and I have to watch myself; fatigue is an enemy, but I won't give in to it.

In all my writing, I haven't given any credit to a teacher who influenced me more than any other, my old teacher from Seattle, Mr. Tom Rodrique. No, he wasn't my private teacher; he was my school orchestra teacher from 7th grade through high school in the Shoreline Public School system, and I think it was he who inspired in me the desire to play and to excel in the art of playing the violin. Mr. Rodrique also conducted the all-city youth orchestra, I believe, so he had access to a lot of terrific music literature; we played great stuff, including the William Tell Overture and the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, and I'm not talking about arrangements either, I'm talking about the real stuff. He was a great teacher - tough, but lovable in his way, and we could tell that he really cared about the students. He treated us like professional musicians and expected us to behave that way; if we didn't settle down for rehearsal right away - every morning at 8:00 sharp - he could get VERY testy. One of his favorite expressions was "DO I HAVE TO GIVE YOU AN ENGRAVED INVITATION!?" delivered in a booming voice, but only when the room was exceptionally noisy. Otherwise he was very soft-spoken. We all loved him, I think, and respected him.

I did sort of get to have him as a semi-private instructor during one semester when he offered a chamber music class, and he helped me a lot with my technique. He even took me on an orchestra recruiting trip to several elementary schools that spring. I think it was at that point that I decided I wanted to be a music teacher.

The last I heard Mr. Rodrique is retired and living in the Caribbean somewhere, a well-deserved retirement. He must be well-along in years now. I think of him often, and with fondness. I hope the years have been kind to him. I didn't realize my dream of becoming a music teacher, but I have achieved at least part of my dream, that of becoming at least a creditable violinist, and I attribute it to Mr. Tom Rodrique, as well as to those who came after him and encouraged and helped me. Mr. Rodrique, Happy New Year, and I hope many more to come!


From Emily Liz
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 4:11 AM

I have fibromyalgia and I always relate to your blog entries. Thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts. You're a real inspiration. We are proof that even if you can't win all the battles against chronic illness, we can win some important ones. :)


From Laurie Trlak
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM

LOL! It always got our attention right away! As I said, he was very soft-spoken otherwise. I wonder if his wife ever saw that side of him? But we knew he cared aboutus as as students, and he wanted us to play well; he usually got the best out of us too, even when some wag shouted "hi old Silver!" at the end of the fanfare in the William Tell Overture during a multi-orchestra concert. It brought the house down, and even Mr. Rod (as we called him) laughed.

From Eloise Garland
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM

 What a lovely post! It is good to look back and reflect on those very special people who helped us at certain times in our lives! Happy new year!

From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 9:25 PM
A wonderful blog, as always. I suspect that almost all of us had at least one music teacher in school who was terrific like Mr. Rodrique. I know I did. I know 2011 will be a good year for those of us who look to your blog for inspiration, and I hope it will be a great year for you, too.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on January 7, 2011 at 4:22 AM

I had a very special violin teacher when i was growing up.  He became a close friend of my family and a sort-of grandfather to me.  I have a framed portrait of him just inside the door to my home, and visitors often ask whether the picture is of my father.  He was well described by Dan Fogelberg's  song "The Leader of the Band."

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