Nov 15, 2006

substitute teachers

Today was lesson day.

In general, lesson day is my very favorite day of the week, largely because I think that M.K. (at left) is the cat's meow. Meow. Anyway, this week and next, M.K. is out of the country and therefore unable to attend to his regular students. In situations like this, most teachers do one of two things: either they will have make-up lessons, or they won't. M.K., however, is not most teachers, and so M.K. does a third thing, which no other teacher I've ever heard of actually does, and that is to call in a stand-in.

That's right. M.K. has a substitute teacher handle his lessons while he is out of the country. This sub is actually a former student of M.K.'s named Matthew Reichart. As it turns out, M.R. is the first person I've met here in NYC who is also originally from the Midwest (Minneapolis, to be exact). In addition, he taught at University of Iowa for a year, and one of his students there was the son of a lady with whom I played in the Sioux City Symphony. Small world, no?

Back to M.R. He teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan and the pre-college program at Brooklyn College, as well as subbing for M.K. While he is very familiar with how M.K. teaches, he has his own teaching style, and so stand-in weeks are a unique opportunity to get another point of view. In September, for example, at my first lesson with M.R., we talked about shifting, and I witnessed the most creative demonstration of said skill which I have ever seen. Ever. We also talked about ways to practice shifting, namely one-string arpeggios, and also etudes, via memorizing them and also practicing them exceedingly slowly to nail articulation.

M.R. is very easy-going, much nicer in his comments than M.K. usually is. Today, for example, I played the last movement of Messiaen for him. While he isn't familiar with the Quartet, and while I wasn't able to procure a score, he still had useful comments. That's the nice thing about teachers: they always have something to tell you to help you improve. Teachers also challenge you to the point of your limits sometimes, and M.R. did that today as well when, after working through the first movement of Mozart, he asked me to play it (just for kicks) memorized (which it will be when I perform it, but isn't quite there at the moment). So I did.

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