The relationship between teacher and student can be a delicate dance, a balance of pushing, pulling, coaxing, and definitely a two-way street. No one probably knows this better than Jennifer Lane, who with her husband, Jim Carr, is in Hawaii to teach her annual vocal workshop. You may remember that Jennifer was first invited to perform in Hawaii by Carl Crosier in the year 2000, for the groundbreaking St. Matthew Passion at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Jennifer is now Associate Professor of Voice at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX and has taught voice at Stanford University, the University of Kentucky, Brooklyn College, and at summer programs and master classes for the Peabody Institute, San Francisco Conservatory, Baldwin-Wallace University, Oberlin College, and the City University of New York. We had a lovely time together on Saturday night and I cooked them dinner at the Marble Palace in the Sky.
I was reminded by Facebook that it was six years ago today that I stood proudly with student Joey Fala at high school graduation where he received the Bishop’s Award at Iolani School, for outstanding service to church, school and community. It was a complete surprise to him — at his weekly Friday afternoon lesson, he apologized that his grandparents were arriving unexpectedly and he had no more tickets to give me to attend the ceremony. Little did he know that I had been in on the secret about the award for a couple of weeks and I would actually be part of the ceremony. I was “busting my buttons with pride” when Bishop Fitzpatrick proclaimed that Joey had “become the best organist in the State!” Joey is now with other Yale organ students in the Baltics, and has visited churches and organs in Estonia, Finland and Russia so far.
This weekend I had the pleasure of interacting with students and former students and I first attended the Sunday service at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, my former working place, where my piano student, Bonnie Lu, was baptized. I was also very pleased with the progress of the handbell choir which played for the offertory and which I briefly conducted in 2005. Later we had dim sum lunch at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, where there were so many different dishes, that I stopped counting. 10? 12? or more?
At the lunch were the three children of Ajaon Chen, Joshua, Daniel and Naomi, all of whom have studied organ with me at one time or another. Naomi, the youngest, is still continuing to take lessons and her mother reminded me that she was only six years old when she started. Joshua and Daniel are home from college (Kenyon College and the Rochester Institute of Technology, respectively), and Joshua even got a few organ substitute gigs in the next few weeks before going to China to spend a semester abroad.
I was sitting next to Joshua who told me that last year, he was practicing late at night at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (like any other college student would do!) and the police were called because the organ was too loud! Can you imagine, only trying to be conscientious and practicing for the Sunday service, to be greeted by the police!
Yesterday afternoon I attended a piano recital by students of LCH parishioner, Mark Russell. It was unusual in that the students were paired up with others to perform duets, trios, and even a quintet with five kids at one piano! As pianists (and organists, too!) we rarely get a chance to play ensemble music with others of our own kind.
It’s graduation season and I will say ‘aloha’ to organ students Andrew Moore and Christopher Lindsay as they go off to college — Andrew to Worcester College, MA and Christopher to the University of Southern California, my alma mater!
And it wasn’t that long ago that this picture of Christopher was taken at the Beckerath organ!
Where does the time go!?