When pupils become the teachers

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I’ve had a lot of support from my singing teachers through the years, but one of them in particular has always gone to great lengths to be present when I have gone through moments in my career where the stakes have appeared to be high. She has an adventurous spirit, but she is also quite pernickety about doing things within the boundaries of what could be regarded by many as conventional.

I invited her to accompany me to see the opening performance of a Shakespeare play which I composed the music for, in a major theatre outside of London. My former teacher is a great travelling companion, but she gets flustered about arriving at a train station with at least half an hour to spare before the actual journey. I decided to play a small prank on her on this occasion.

We arrived at the mainline station with time to spare and had everything we needed, but I didn’t reveal the exact moment the train was due to leave. As we walked towards the train compartment, I mentioned nothing about the departure time – her attention was diverted as we boarded the train.

We found our seats and had just managed to settle down, when the train started moving! Oh! She exclaimed… And I teased her gently about her worries that we could have missed the journey.

Eventually we had a great time at the matinee performance and all the bother about doing things on time was forgotten. After the show, I took my singing teacher backstage to meet the actors. One of them was intrigued to know how we got to know each other and develop such a bond of closeness. We tried to explain to him, but probably didn’t make a lot of sense. Is there something unique about successful teacher-pupil relationships in music making that doesn’t translate well to others unless if you’ve experienced the same thing?

 

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