This time of year has a sad element to it as a number of students are leaving, having graduated from high school and going to college in other parts of the country, or having finished college here, getting married and starting their own independent lives. This past week I had to say farewell to two wonderful young human beings. One surprised me by having beautifully memorized the Bach Chaconne for her final lesson, another one by playing the Conus violin concerto like the best of them. Although both easily could have pursued a life in music, only one decided to do so. I am reluctant to encourage anyone to go into this field in these uncertain times; yet for some music is a burning desire and they really have no other choice at this young age of hopes and dreams. This young woman in question will do fine in New York: never have I seen someone her age make so much progress in a year's time. Often a student and a teacher don't make a good match and she was stuck in that situation. In her case I was able to free her from whatever was holding her back, and was delighted to watch her blossom into a young mature artist. The previously insecure and hesitant sound has developed into a magnificient and brilliant one, and her technical potential will have no limits. I am so happy to have been able to be a catalyst in her life to help her through this metamorphosis. The other young lady has been no less of a source of joy. I know that she got a lot from me musically and she'll always play well. In turn I learned a lot from her. A true scholar, she will have a bright future ahead, no matter what she'll decide to do after her years at Rice. I hope that both of them will stay in touch for years to come. Former students are often unpredictable in that respect. Some disappear completely, others become like adopted children and make the teacher part of their families and lives for decades.
I will also greatly miss my students who graduated from the university down the hill from us. They will start their own professional lives and if they will stay in the area as it seems, we will be bumping into each other without a doubt. Since I never was able to keep the lessons as short as mandated, we also had managed to do enough talking about life and its issues to get to know each other as fellow humans. This is what I find most rewarding about teaching; learning happens in both directions. Young adults may not have the life experience of an older person, but neither are they burdened by the unpleasant realities of later life, with its backstabbings, deceit and such. It is too bad that we have to go through such negative experiences at all. If the human race only weren't so imperfect, selfish and looking for one's own benefit at any cost, life would be nice indeed. Unfortunately, in this society of ours, niceness, kindness, honesty and good will are all considered to be signs of weakness. How many acquaintances and colleagues we all know who would do just about anything to advance their own careers and other seemingly important goals. Success comes at a price, at the expense of humanity.