When my husband, Harmony, gets excited about something, which isn’t very often, he reeeeeally gets excited about it. Lately, he’s been on a Seth Godin kick. As a result, he forces everyone in the house (the guys from our band and an ex-gang banger) to listen to audio books for hours on end. He walks around saying things like “you’re thinking with your lizard brain” and “like a true linchpin”.
Needless to say, my husband’s incessant reiterations of Godin-isms are getting old and Seth Godin’s ideas are being ingrained in us all—whether we like it or not (don’t tell Harmony, or he’ll ceaselessly rub it in, but I’m actually enjoying the books and am learning a lot).
Anyway, a few of Godin’s mantras are that “safe is risky”, “very good is bad” and “you’re either remarkable or invisible”.
When I was in high school, I took violin lessons at a school near my house. I remember only one thing about my violin teacher—he had holes in his shoes. Now that I’m a teacher too, I understand why he had holes in his shoes (that’s a BLOG for another day)…
but what strikes me even more than the “talking shoes” is the fact that I can’t remember ANYTHING else about the guy. His name, what he looked like, any piece of music we might have worked on… nothing.
He was not remarkable.
He was invisible.
On the other hand, I had a teacher in college, Peter Shu, who was remarkable in every way.
I was very likely his worst student. I came to my first week of piano lessons with very little knowledge of jazz or 7th chords. I had never even heard of the concept of thinking in numbers—numbers in music?!? Shu asked me what kind of music I liked and we proceeded to work on Fiona Apple’s “Never Is A Promise”.
Shu spent the next few months schooling me in 9th (and 11th and 13th) chords… in the circle of fifths and transposing. He conned me (see my last blog “The Art of Conning Kids”) into playing jazz with Jamey Aebersold book & CD combos. I was not good at the whole jazz thing—didn’t think it was in my gene pool. I probably drove Shu crazy.
Later, Shu taught me in Jazz Workshop, a requirement for my major. The other guys were playing circles around me but he forced me to jump in & play with them anyway.
I will never forget Peter Shu because he changed my life.
He was remarkable.
What about you? Are you remarkable? Have you had a remarkable teacher?