A student from 50 years ago contacted me a couple of days ago...

I had the most amazing conversation last night with a former student of mine. He's a physician and had studied with me at Ellsworth Studios in Bethesda, MD - Around 1979.

He randomly saw one of my videos on instagram. The algorithm put one of my videos in his feed and when he saw it, he immediately wondered if this was his teacher from all those years ago?

We spoke for over 2.5 hours. He told me that my teaching and influence, changed his life, changed the way he thought about music, about learning - and about people influencing the course of his life.

He was really into the rock/pop music of the time and wanted me to show him how to play rock - but I wanted him to work on fundamentals until he gained a basic understanding of the rudiments.

He reminded me that at some point, I would go through the lesson rudiments with him and when he demonstrated he had grasped the previous week's lesson material, I spent the rest of the lesson teaching him some of the rock music he wanted to learn. He reminded me that I transcribed some of the music off a cassette player he brought in.

Based on his interests and my thoughts on how I might help develop them further, I wrote a list of 4 albums that I wanted him to ask his parents to get.

These were the 4 albums.

Jeff Beck - Blow by Blow 
Jean Luc Ponty - Enigmatic Ocean (with Allan Holdsworth)
Tony Williams Lifetime - Believe It (with Allan Holdsworth)
Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life

He had wondered for almost 5 decades, why I had recommended these 4 albums and whether I had recommended these albums to all of my students.


Based on my interactions with him, I was trying to nuance him into expanding his horizons - going from more rock oriented (but complex) Blow by Blow all the way to Jazz (Pat Metheny)

He was simultaneously studying drums while he took lessons with me - which he eventually decided to focus on. He continued to play through undergrad, graduate and doctorate, and in fact, hosted a jazz radio show in college. He continues to play drums recreationally today and is a voracious listener of all things jazz.

In addition to being a huge jazz fan, he is a personal friends with many of the "who's who" of jazz. The jazz experience is integral to who he is as a person.

He still regularly attends jazz shows and it's not unusual for him attend shows of his favorite players, sitting right next to the stage, for multiple nights of "2-shows-a-night" on both coasts.

He let me know several times, that I was one of 3 or 4 mentors who absolutely changed his life and that he still frequently tells the story about his "teacher at Ellsworth and that list of 4 albums"...

I'm humbled to have had this level of influence, and that someone would reach out to me, almost 50 years later - to let me know how I influenced them.

Such is the power of teaching and mentoring.

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