I just taught my last lesson before Christmas, and most of my students came in with small presents for me. This happens every year, and every year it surprises me how touching these little gifts are. It really is wonderful to feel like the hard work I put into this studio is worthwhile, and it's so nice to be appreciated.
In the spirit of paying it forward, I want to take a moment to recognize my private teachers:
Cynthia Livingston, my first teacher, taught me from elementary school through mid-high school. She created a warm, welcoming space for me to learn more about the flute and gave me a great foundation in the basics. She also had the extraordinary grace and humility to tell me that she didn't feel like she could adequately prepare me for college auditions and that I should consider working with someone else to give myself the best possible chance.
Berta Frank, my high school teacher, pushed me to explore the music I played in a deeper way and refused to let me sell myself short. She made me work on etudes even when I didn't want to and created a great sense of community among her flute students. She mentored me through my college audition process and I'm certain she had a great deal to do with why I got into the schools I wanted to go to.
Kenneth Andrews, my undergraduate teacher, was a huge influence in my flute career. He absolutely refused to accept excuses, and that taught me to stop making excuses and start working hard to get where I wanted to go. He gave me the incredible gift of the good habits that make all the difference to musicians; timeliness, preparation, and inquiry. I owe him a huge debt.
Vanessa Mulvey, my grad school teacher, was the one who fixed my messed-up shoulder, which allowed me to keep teaching and playing. If not for her and the Body Mapping she taught me, I would have had to live with chronic pain that would most likely have cut my music career short. Instead, she showed me how the muscles and bones in the body move and connect to each other so that I could learn to play in the most efficient way possible. In the process of learning Body Mapping, my shoulder pain was healed. This alone would be a huge gift, but she also taught me to take pleasure in the act of sharing a piece of music with an audience, and how to invite them into my experience rather than trying to forget that they're watching.
I dearly hope that I can make the same sort of difference in my students' lives that my teachers have made in mine.