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Mendy Smith

Day 25 - Pondering Final Lessons

February 26, 2009 at 8:43 AM

After this Sunday's audition, I will only have two more lessons with Joel before moving to Houston.  Wow...  when put it into those terms, it makes me quite sad.  And to think that my first lesson with him two years ago had me shaking in my own boots, and now here I am getting soppy about leaving him as a teacher.  It almost makes me want to consider passing up this job offer just to stay in the area so I can continue lessons with him, but I know that I cannot do that - not when there is a job waiting for me in Houston.  Joel's e-mail back to me on this news and my thanks for his teaching skills was this:

"Wow, this comes as a surprise, but it sounds like a great idea.  It is important to work.  You need to give most of the credit to yourself, you are the one who dedicated so much effort.  You should really be proud of yourself.  I am sure that you will find some more time in the future to do even more.  Houston is a huge city, with many more opportunities to get to know people like you who want to play music together...."

Funny how even my teacher seems disappointed about me finding a new job where music will take a back-burner once again.  He was happy to know though that I'm still going through the audition and agreed that it would be a shame to dismiss this opportunity over something as trivial as a move out of state. 

So, tomorrow's lesson will still be focused on the audition pieces.  Then comes the question of what to focus on over the next two weeks before I move.  I proposed a "year in review" (actually two) - that is to play through as many of the pieces we have studied together as possible with a focus on the techniques he has taught me since beginning lessons with him.  It will be my last opportunity to apply what I've learned with him on familiar pieces and get a final assessment and advice on a regular basis. 

Good-bye is never forever...  I still keep in contact with and occasionally visit my prior teachers.  With Joel it is will be easier - he teaches at Interlochen (adult chamber music camp).  I'll still be seeing him once a year. 

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 2:44 PM

I can imagine how difficult it will be for you to leave lessons with Joel.  I lived in Germany for a year before college and I took lessons at a music school there.  At the time, my teacher was the best I'd ever had to date, and I really bonded with her.  I have never practiced, before or since, as much as I did then (every day for 2-3 hours).  But when I came back to the US and went to college we corresponded for a while, and then she got married and we lost touch.  I've looked for her on the internet and I found something that might be a dissertation or some translation work that she did, but nothing else.  

On the other hand, I've since found very wonderful teachers in other places.  And they're all very different.  I think it's good, especially for adult students, to get a variety of perspectives and teaching styles.

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