Friday, February 8, 2008
Subbing in Pittsburgh
Last week, I had the pleasure of being a substitute teacher. While substitute teaching can be a nightmare if you’re talking eighth grade math, it’s a blast when you’re subbing for the amazing bassist and teacher Jeff Turner. Jeff invited me to teach his students at Carnegie-Mellon and Duquesne Universities while he is on tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony for a few weeks. I drove up to Pittsburgh on Sunday, and taught that day and Monday, teaching a private lesson to almost all of Jeff's current students and doing a studio master class. Jeff has clearly fashioned a top-flight program at these schools, and his great teaching has attracted some very talented and hard-working bassists. I had a great time and (as often happens) learned a lot myself from the students. Jeff structures his studio classes somewhat differently than the way we do at Peabody, and I’m always interested in seeing the pluses and minuses of how different bass programs are organized and run. Jeff’s studio has many more graduate students than the current Peabody bass student body does, and as a result the classes are structured a little more openly than ours are. This makes sense as many more of our students are approaching repertoire for the first time, while most of Jeff’s students have already been exposed to a lot of standard orchestral and solo rep.
There was only one amusing glitch in the whole process: when Jeff sent me the schedule, I was surprised to see that he had scheduled a studio class for the exact time of the Superbowl! While impressed with his and his students’ dedication to their craft, I couldn’t help wondering if there was going to be some grumbling when I got there. Sure enough, students were clearly very unhappy to have to sit through my musings on their Bach Bourees when they could be having a brewski and watching the Pats and Giants do their thing. Fortunately, we were able to reschedule for Monday night and make everyone happy.
Thanks to Jeff and to all his students for a great time in Pittsburgh!