V.com weekend vote: Do you keep in touch with your former teacher(s)?

June 13, 2021, 7:12 PM · This week has brought a lot of graduations, reunions and rites of passage.

Graduation, of course, is a time for moving on. But often we look back, at the very moments we are taking new steps.


This week I enjoyed a college graduation party that reunited me with a couple of my former students. Having taught both of them from the time they were about five through high school, I certainly enjoyed seeing them and sharing memories, as one of them moves on past college and the other moves into the final year. For me it is always a real treat to have a conversation with one of my former students, or a lesson.

This made me think about my own former teachers, and the occasions on which I've seen them. Over the years, I've gone back to a number of them for lessons or coachings, and also just remained friends, exchanging holiday greetings and visiting when I'm in town. My teachers made such a difference in my life, and I'm very grateful.

I thought I'd dedicate this week's vote to that student-teacher relationship and ask, do you stay in touch with your former teacher or teachers? How often do you communicate? Do you still occasionally ask for advise? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts.

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June 14, 2021 at 11:27 AM · Funny you should ask, Laurie, about keeping in touch with "former" teachers. I'm here at Violinist.com as a distraction from the email I came to my computer to write...to my "former" viola da gamba teacher. I haven't had a lesson from her since December 2019. She's the only one I ever had gamba lessons from (about 20 of them over a year and a half) and now I'm about to tell her I will be starting with a new teacher much closer to home, at a music school where I'll also join a viol consort and finally get practice at playing in an ensemble. I stopped lessons when the covid shutdowns came, and wasn't interested in online lessons. So I'm about to email her to tell her about my new direction and ask if she might give me 3 more lessons this summer to launch me into the new school. She had been an excellent teacher for me, but I want new influences and the ensemble experience to break me out of my musical isolation.

June 14, 2021 at 02:08 PM · I am connected to one of my childhood teachers and my grad school professor through FB. Sadly, my first childhood teacher and my college professor have passed away.

I’m also connected to quite a few former students through Facebook. It is gratifying to see their successes in life, whether musical or otherwise.

June 14, 2021 at 02:29 PM · I have been in contact over the years with 4 of my college profs and my grad school advisor. Three of them are now deceased. No contact with former music teachers.

Edit, I never had private lessons, I was just one of the crowd.

June 14, 2021 at 03:33 PM · I have met one of my former teachers at philharmonic concerts several times. We did not have much to talk about.

June 14, 2021 at 04:31 PM · My violin teachers (George and Mary) were husband and wife who invested in me, both as a person and musician. I cannot repay that debt. They are a huge part of who I am and I visited them often with my wife and children over the last 3 decades. I played duets with George a month before he died 10 years ago. Mary also passed away a couple of years ago. Just a week ago, I bought George's violin from his step-son. It's an inanimate object, but It does bring back memories. I so miss them.

I now just started back with a young new teacher. Her name is Sabrina, and she is a wonderfully skilled teacher/violinist and a great person. I bring her garden vegetables and Raspberry Jam... She plays duets with me. My wife says I'm a more relaxed and better person when I play violin. I gotta thank George and Mary for that.

June 14, 2021 at 04:57 PM · I voted no, which is not entirely true.

I keep in touch with my childhood teacher who is now in his 80's. When my parents had trouble paying for my lessons, my teacher allowed me to help him and his wife with house chores instead. He cared about me as a person.

June 14, 2021 at 06:23 PM · The teachers I would love to see again are the wonderful ones my daughters had as children. They gave us music lessons and life lessons. Their skills and patience deserve kudos. Their creativity was a delight. They were able to expect excellence because of their solid teaching.

June 15, 2021 at 08:01 PM · I had to vote no, but if the vote had been taken 2,500 weekends ago, my answer would have been yes with some frequency for both of my former violin (& viola) teachers, and yes but infrequently for my former organ teacher (who was killed in his 70s in a bicycle accident).

June 16, 2021 at 02:24 PM · I voted no only because my former and first teacher passed away many years ago. He was one of the most important influences on my life. I began lessons from him starting at the age of seven and continued until I graduated from high school. He was also my high school orchestra conductor where we played sophisticated programs of classical music which entailed practices every day of the week except Sundays; we performed on the radio and traveled to Canada. He was strict and demanding, as many of the WWII veterans were, but I became a fine amateur musician who still plays in an orchestra and continues to enjoy classical, operatic and jazz performances.

June 16, 2021 at 07:06 PM · Unfortunately my most important teachers have all passed on. I did have some contact with them over the years while they were alive.

June 16, 2021 at 07:27 PM · last two both dead, not good when you want a reference for a job. Moral get your teachers to upload to interfolio and academic jobs online

June 18, 2021 at 04:19 PM · "Yes, but infrequently." My first teacher and I have corresponded a few times in the last 15 years. She was a major influence in my musical development. I have the instruction books from those early days, with her markings and written suggestions on how to practice.

Looking back, I can see that this teacher had a keen sense of when a pupil was ready to start learning a new element of technique. She felt that I was ready to start position-playing after the first few months, and I was -- I took to this part of the study quite readily. In the first of the two Harvey Whistler Introducing the Positions books, she wrote: "Let grace note [guide note when shifting] be heard (at first). It will sound sloppy, but that is the way we have to learn it!"

I don't ask for advice now -- I had five teachers after her till I finished school. Three have passed away. I could cite valuable pointers I gained from each of them.

June 20, 2021 at 01:42 AM · I’ve exchanged Christmas cards for over 30 years with the last violin teacher I had (during my last two years of high school) - William Kennedy of Irvine CA. I’ve visited him a couple times during that timeframe. Coincidentally, I share this teacher with another V.com member, Gene Wie, although we didn’t overlap. Gene and I met in-person for the first time in 2018 when we had a reunion of former Kennedy students.

I also recently connected again with my very first violin teacher - Paul Landefeld of Pittsburgh PA. I took lessons from Mr. Landefeld in the mid-70’s. There’s a funny story to how we reconnected. Professional violinist, Jennifer Roig-Francoli, and I have been connected on Facebook for several years. In a random discussion we were having on fb, we discovered that we had the same first violin teacher in Paul Landefeld. Since she had kept in touch with him, we were able to reconnect.

I had 6 other violin teachers between my first and my last, but don’t keep in touch with any of them. Another bizarre coincidence is that one of these teachers - James Maurer - I also share with our own Laurie Niles. The violin community is a small one!

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