Miss Milanesio protected me from the bigger kindergarten kids. Mr. White made me a math whiz in third grade. And Mr. Ferentinos taught me to write clearly.
Yesterday I visited Mrs. Podich, my childhood piano teacher, for the first time in six years. She exemplifies the power that one single teacher can have.
Mrs. Podich is the reason I know how to play the piano.
When I was 6, I told my parents I wanted to take piano lessons. Nobody in our family played the piano. My parents got me one for my birthday and enrolled me in lessons with Mrs. Podich.
Every week for 11 years, I walked to Mrs. Podich’s house, rang the doorbell, and entered her studio. Her grand piano and her husband’s paintings introduced me to the world of art.
Mrs. Podich taught me everything I learned about piano as a kid, all the way from the basics to Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Until I took lessons again as an adult with another skilled teacher, there was no one besides Mrs. Podich responsible for my piano education.
When I think about Mrs. Podich, now 86 and still teaching, I think about the power of teaching. She expanded not only my musical skill but also the way I look at the world. I am hopeful that I can do the same for my own students.
I also think about the importance of relationship. Mrs. Podich and I met more than 500 times, week after week, on schedule. We’d focus on piano, of course. But Mrs. Podich also watched me grow up. She has more knowledge about my childhood than anyone besides my mom.
When our visit ended, Mrs. Podich reminded me to visit her more often. That’s the least I can do. My goal is to return in the summer and play a little Beethoven for her. The music — from her to me, then back to her — will make sense.