Thoughtful Thursday # 8 – Role Models

Who are your role models?

The music teachers I have encountered, beginning in elementary school, have influenced my life in a number of ways.  Most have been positive role models professionally and personally.  But negative role models can also have their place in shaping your path.

At elementary school a “Mrs. C” came and conducted a music class in our combined grade classrooms.  I enjoyed them.  I can not remember if it was once a week or perhaps just twice a month.  We sang, we learned letter names of the staff, and then there was some dancing.  Most kids like the dancing.  I think I felt pretty lukewarm about the dancing, especially by 4th or 5th grade.  Sometime during 5th grade my aunt arranged for me to start piano lessons with “Mrs. C” at her home.  I was excited but I think “Mrs. C” may have found me a less than quick study.  Or it may just have been that “Mrs. C” was widowed and starting to date her late-husband’s brother.  I know my lessons got canceled by “Mrs. C” quite often.  Because she was  charging only a  $1 a lesson (this would be around 1970?) my aunt did not feel she could complain or think of sending me to another teacher.

In 7th grade I was bused to a 7-12 school in another town.  The music teacher there was fresh out of college, really accomplished & a product of NYC society.  I just wanted to be her – “Miss B”.   On the piano lesson front “Mrs. C” remarried and moved away.  I was able to take lessons from another older woman.  She was very different from “Mrs. C”.  She was “Miss M”.  She had gone to Julliard during the war years (WWII) when they took a lot of women because the men were in the military.  I did not want to be “Miss M” but she gave me a solid foundation and I respected her for it.  She was hard working and a model that a single woman could support herself running her own music studio.

Another young woman who has a school music teacher rented an apartment from a relative of mine during my H.S. years and she also fit into that “I want to be her” slot.  She was never my teacher but I saw her as a role model and she was nice enough to let an admiring young teen like me ‘hang out’ with her sometimes.

It was during my H.S. years, after “Miss B” had left for grad school that I met the person who just might be the most responsible for my becoming a music teacher.  “Mr. L”   was a competent musician, and certainly sure of himself.  But he wasn’t “Miss B” and after his first or second year his sense of responsibility just wasn’t what it should have been.  I was too naive to see that his problem wasn’t just shiftlessness but alcoholism too.  I became certain that I could at least be more on the ball as a teacher than he was.  Hence my stating that the negative role models can be just has important as the good ones.

My instructors & professors of music during college were mainly great role models.  Once again I had one not so good one.  He caused me a lot of tears & anxiety.  I, along with a number of classmates were asked to right letters about him,  but I am going to spare both you & myself going into that long saga.  My private piano instructor during college was the consummate role model.   She did a lot to make me as good a teacher as I became.  Her role modeling, however,  went well beyond musicianship & teaching skills.  She was (and still is) a model for being a fine, considerate, well-mannered human being.

Some of this is a rehash of a posting from 2011 so forgive if you are thinking you have heard a good chunk of it before. Your memory is correct.

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