My beloved music teacher, David Samuel Miller, has passed away unexpectedly. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I will never see him again. I am only now very slowly, with each passing hour, realizing the enormity of the impact that he had on my life. And, as is so often the case with those whom we love, there are many things that I wish I could get a chance to say, or even just a kiss goodbye.
Chief amongst these is the fact that he led me to the most beautiful sound that I have ever heard, resonating from an instrument that I don’t yet fully understand, and changing my entire life. He taught me how to hear the music before I even put the bow to the string, and how to sing it if I still couldn’t figure it out. It is a priceless gift, and can be compared to nothing else. Now, I no longer hear the cello with my ears. My body hears it; it vibrates through my soul, and demands everything of me. I wish that I could express my gratitude for all of this, but I’m only just now figuring it out through the shock of his death. It’s like sitting backwards on a train that’s only ever moving forward.
David was also one of those precious few people in life who could understand me without any extra explanation being necessary. I could say anything, and how wonderful it was to be so fully understood. We talked about music, the meaning of life, human nature, and boyfriends. What emotions a particular sonata provoked, the latest in politics, was Brahms really in love with Clara Schumann, and whether women and men were really very different after all.
He took pride in my accomplishments, and always listened when I needed to vent.
Whatever random non-cello music I wanted to play, he would compose a cello part, just for me, even when I lived on the other side of the world. When I lost my job, he taught me for free. When I was in low spirits after that, he told me stories about what Beethoven went through when he started to go deaf. When I was too depressed to play, he was infinitely patient, and never gave up on me. As a consequence, I never stopped being a cellist, even though everything else in my world was falling apart. And now, as I’m finally coming back together, he is gone.
I’m still (and probably always will be) just a baby cellist, but that’s ok. Because I’m so lucky to have been blessed with an incomparably compassionate and talented teacher, mentor, and father figure. A very beautiful part of my life has ended. As cellists, we are so much poorer for his departure.
I think he knew that I loved him. I have always felt loved, from the moment I first held a bow seven years ago.
Go well, my sweet and beautiful friend. Thank you for the music.