Sometimes it feels like my past teachers are sitting on my shoulders as I play certain pieces – giving me notes, reminding me to do certain things, tutting, humming, hopefully smiling.
The person whose presence I feel the most is the late Arthur Haley.
I was lucky enough to meet Arthur when he was in his late 80s. I was living in the next village and were introduced through a mutual friend and had lessons with him for a few years before his death. He was a wonderful man and his inspiring teaching widened my musical horizons and transformed my playing. I feel honoured to have studied with him and to have known him.
Arthur was proud of his teaching heritage and gave all his pupils a list of the generations of tutors who linked him back to Beethoven. So here here it is:
So, through Arthur, my pupils can trace their piano teacher ancestry back 8 generations to Beethoven: their Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandteacher.
This of course is just a bit of fun. Arthur showed me a new way of approaching the piano. Before, my tuition had been mostly about playing the right notes with the right fingers. Basic technique which, whilst solid, lacked emotional intelligence and vitality. I do think the heritage of Beethoven was there – that imagined bit of passion and rigour. Whatever it was, I use a lot of what Arthur taught me with my pupils so the legacy continues.