I know. that’s all crazy.
I started out with a beautiful piano teacher who then moved far far away. I dont remember her name, I just remember that she was energetic and happy and loving and thought I was cute. I think I was like 8 or so.
Then I started with Glenn who was an awesome pianist and wrote by hand our lessons. He would write out easy versions to popular songs and he also tried to get me to write my own melodies. I was like 9 at that point and I stuck with him until he said he couldn’t teach me any more which was around 14 I think. I think I cried at our last lesson. He was my favorite and kind but firm and always encouraging.
And then I had Murray “I think I am a good” Singer. He was a Juilliard graduate and instructor. He played with various operas and broadway and had a long established career. He was a big scary old curmudgeon who smoked cigars throughout my entire lesson and would SING ALONG with songs that HAD NO SINGING PARTS. He would sometimes smack my hand if I played something wrong and he would yell at me. He also ridiculed things like my posture, the length of my pinkies, and that I would never make it to Juilliard. I was pretty sure that I could not care less about any of those things even though if you asked pretty much anyone who knew me in high school they would have guessed I’d be a music major. But if the instructors were anything like him, I would have been a nervous wreck for the duration. I developed a nervous twitch in his presence which would immediately dissipate the second I left his studio.
In college, I hung out with some music majors. They were across the board, ridiculously driven people who practiced 10-12 hours a day, were all anorexic or bulimic and would randomly burst into tears or maniacal laughter. Sometimes simultaneously. I became a creative writing major so I could make fun of them in my short stories.
Fast forward a few hundred years and now I am back playing music. Music that I love to play, music that is sometimes handwritten. I think about my posture and the curvature of my hands and wrists and I laugh. Sometimes maniacally. I dont care to be “the best” whatever that is, and I dont need this for my career. There is so much freedom in that.
But flashbacks to lessons with Murray make my skin crawl. I had tried to find a voice teacher awhile back and everyone I met either freaked me out a bit or seemed to hate giving lessons. When I wanted to take piano again from a man who played blues, I had visions of him yelling and puffing cigar smoke at me. And now that I’m taking violin lessons and feeling completely inadequate and unskilled, I have this nervous twitch again.
Not to say that my teacher is anything like Murray. Not even remotely. He is sweet and kind and funny and laid back and has not, as of yet, smacked me. It might help that we were friends before I started lessons, but I have the feeling he is nice to everyone. You have to be a really special person to be a beginner violin teacher.
Anyway, I am trying to not let the frustration get to me, but I did notice that while practicing, I began to do the nervous thing I do with my neck like I did in piano. It’s like this slight shaking off of whatever mean thing Murray said to me. I dont know if the guy is still around, but if I ever run into him, I am totally smacking his hand.