I have been fortunate to meet and work with exceptional teachers and performers, a majority of whom, were pupils and students, once removed, of the some of the most important teachers, in the history of the piano and the voice.
All of this was through no effort of mine, it was just how it turned out.
But it has left me well placed, firstly to evaluate and secondly, to pass on,
-as it was passed to me, what is really important, the nub, if you like, of the technique, style, practice and performance, of both the piano and the voice, the heart and soul, of their existence, as experienced, by both performer, listener and receiver.
Such teachers invariably become mentors. These days, this is perhaps an unfashionable word and open to misunderstanding.
It did not used to be so.
Teaching and mentoring blend into a multifaceted experience, where as much is learnt in the café, the pub, the dinner party, the home, the theatre, concert hall or opera house,
-or indeed, en route, traveling, as is in the music studio or on the piano stool
Teachers of this sort carry with them, a thoroughness and a seriousness, a depth, in knowledge, as well as authority and leadership in their delivery.
But more than that, they posses an individuality, intensity and spontaneity, that is difficult to pin down in words, seemingly living and working outside of the everyday experiences of most of us, inhabiting a world, where music, art and their possibilities, blend together, into a genuine lifestyle.
Bold capital names are the names of musicians that I have spent time with, as teachers and mentors, some for only a limited time, others, for considerably longer, non-bold names are musicians and performers, associated with a particular teacher of mine, who, in turn affected me, through what I like to think of as a sort of ‘musical-transference’.
A good teacher should be Infectious, with vital energy, coupled with wide knowledge,
-and that based in an historical awareness, exhibit sound training and mentoring, with wide life experience, and all this, via a unique and personal absorption and growth, where planted seeds have grown into a musical lifestyle and where technique and style have been absorbed into the personality, through both musical reaction and musical expression.
An perhaps, most vital of all, the ability to make the learning experience come alive with that special and subtle combination of humor, with authority.
Fairness, with firmness and with vision, that picks-up, quickly and easily, on each individual they come into contact with.
Nothing instills confidence in a student, than that their teacher believes in them, quickly picking up on their dreams, with uncanny empathy and the ability to lead, if you like, by the hand and by example, into the potential that each student must, through hard work and due attention, reach.