Giving back April 13 2015


Every Saturday morning of each semester for 2 years of a masters degree from Temple University, and 2 more of doctoral work, I drove to Cherry Hill from Wilmington, DE for a 9:00 AM lesson with the legendary flutist Murray Panitz. That entailed a 6:30 wake up call, thorough warm up at home, and the almost one hour drive.

I loved those lessons.

But woe to you if you made an error that was less than intelligent.

One eyebrow would lift and you knew it was bad. You mentally scanned what you just did to be able to anticipate the criticism. If you could form a question around the infraction, sometimes, on a very lucky day, you could avoid the upcoming inquisition.

For the worst infractions, however, it was the eyebrow and a very sharp, "Hello?!" Yikes. Far too often it was a slip that was something that you knew all too well was going to be called out.

It took me 4 lessons to complete the 8 bars of the second movement of the Bach b-minor Sonata.

It took many many months for me to hear the word, "Excellent."

On that day, as I drove from my lesson into Philadelphia for a gig, Handel's "Alleluia" Chorus came on my car radio as I was crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge in my yellow Subaru sedan. It was spring, the windows were open, the breeze sweet. I was on top of the world.

And there was a parking spot on the street just yards from my gig! What a day.

Then there was that sound we all dread. That metallic crush when you know you have miscalculated where that taxi cab was on that parallel parking swing. The Philly cab driver was eloquent in his use of the vernacular, and I had to give insurance info, play the gig, and wait for the wrath of my husband.

Memories like this are part of the personal lore of my lessons with Murray. I cherish the memory of these. But even more so: that magnificent sound that filled the biggest halls regardless of the dynamic.

And now I have the great good fortune to be able to help others study with an inspirational teacher, and at the same time, help preserve the memory of a great musician and flutist.

With this in mind, I will fund three scholarships this year in memory of Murray. The first is through the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia. The second is for tuition to The Consummate Flutist seminar at Carnegie Mellon University and the third is for tuition at the Galway Flute Festival in Swizterland. 

It is my hope that others will do similar donations in memory of their teachers. In this way we can preserve the legacy of those great ones who came before us.