My first music teacher taught out of a room in a small house in New Jersey. We would walk in, my mother, sister and myself at first, and later just me and my mother, and go left into the living room. My sister would go first, and I would look at pictures in the guitar magazines that our guitar teacher had in the living room. Sometimes I went outside and played on his front lawn. I was eight when I began to take music lessons.
Mr. Hall was a tough teacher. He made sure you practiced. He didn't just teach you a few chords, he made you read music, and he didn't accept much in the way of excuses. He also had a good sense of humor, and seemed to be always drinking coffee, despite the fact that our lessons were in the evening. I remember sitting in his studio, surrounded by guitars, the beige rug strewn with capos and picks. It smells like coffee and pencils. And I felt safe there.
Music has always been that haven. As I got older, I joined the choir and band in elementary school. In middle school, I did band and choir and string ensemble. In high school, band and choir. All the choirs. All three of them. I took private voice lessons and went to college for vocal performance. And now, as an adult, I have rehearsals to attend. And I have rehearsals to run. There is nothing quite like music to make you feel a connection to other people. Nothing quite like creating something beautiful with others, either with your teacher--working together on what you need to work on, or with a huge college group. Music is that place of connection, and when we create music together, that brings us closer to each other.
I learned a lot from Mr. Hall. I am the teacher I am because of him, and I am the musician that I am because of him. He was the first to teach me the importance of paying attention to the details in the music, of really knowing what you are learning. And that first experience, and all of them, right up to the rehearsal I had last night with an opera company, have always reminded me that nothing connects us quite like music.