Monday, August 5, 2013

What Teachers Live For II (with surprised thanks to Paul Blankinship)

     
  •  Dr. Dehning,

     Thank you for connecting with me on Facebook. I don't know if you remember me or not - I don't think I was a particularly memorable student - but as a student of yours at UOP, I not only learned a great deal, but ended up a very different person.
    I was motivated to write to you because I met a colleague of yours, Megan Solomon (I hope that's right) at an event for new students at Oberlin college (where my son is heading, as is her daughter).
    We got to talking, and I told her what I've told several people - that being a part of your class was one of the few defining moments in my life, and that I caught a glimpse of the person that I wanted to become there.
    She suggested I write to you to let you know how strongly you influenced me as a student, and then as an adult - so that's the reason I decided to write.
    One thing I feel you should know is that I wasn't a student with ambition or direction - I didn't know choral music or vocal music. I also didn't stay in school, both because I ran out of money, and because I lacked the perspective to know how to focus myself and my energies.
    And yet - despite that - I ended up making a life as a musician, mostly as a cocktail pianist and accompanist for jazz singers, but also leading a number of very good choirs, because I valued what I saw you do, and because I saw how you took music generally, and choral music specifically, seriously, and how you respected music and your musicians with the literature and technique you brought to bear.
    The idea I'd like to convey is that even those of us who must have seemed mediocre musicians and students were raised by your example and teaching. I'm sure the cream of the crop would have done well anywhere, but I never could have done any of what I did without having had your influence in my life.
    As I said at the beginning of this note, I wasn't a memorable student. I hope you know that for every one of those memorable students whose success marks your career, there are others, like me, who look at the time they spent in your class and wonder how they got so goddamn lucky.


    All the very best to you,

    Paul

2 comments:

nelybel said...

Wow! Fabulous letter.

nelybel said...

Wow! Fabulous letter.