My viola teacher from high school, Alice Preves, died on Wednesday. I was so sad to hear the news yesterday. Sad that the world has lost a wonderful violist and teacher, and sad that I will not again get the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me.
During my senior year of high school my father died only a few months after being diagnosed with cancer. It was a terrible year. There are many things about that time period that I don't even remember, that I don't choose to remember. I know that in my grief, I was very difficult to reach.
One thing I remember clearly from those days is my viola lessons. Sometimes it felt like my only anchor to the future was playing the viola. Alice seemed to intuit and respect my emotional boundaries. She didn't ask for more than I could give and she helped me stay focused and moving forward. In this way her support was literally life saving. Alice's unique brand of stern tenderness ushered me through the worst period of my life. Unlike pretty much every other place in the world, I felt safe in my viola lessons.
Almost every quality about my viola playing that I really truly like, I can trace back to Alice and think, "Alice taught me how to do that". She was my first serious teacher. When she accepted me as a student I was a Suzuki kid, by the time I left for college she had turned me into a budding musician. I have had many wonderful teachers since then, but Alice is the one who instilled in me the musical values I hold most dear. Alice was a born teacher.
It is hard to write about Alice from the perspective of an adult. I wish I could write more about who she was, but honestly, I don't really know. I was a messed up kid when I was closest to Alice. To me she represents love, stability, hard work, passion, and faith. Alice was a teacher to me in more ways than I can explain or understand.
I love you, Alice. You will be missed.