The road ends, but the journey continues...

Open Letter (debut)

Dear Teacher,
You were my very first formal classical guitar instructor…


Thus begins an open letter I wrote years ago.

The new vistas that surfing the ‘net* opened up in the ’90s prompted me to try contacting my first classical guitar teacher to thank her for the role she played in my development as a musician. I posted a copy of my open letter on both** of the forums I was subscribed to at the time in the hopes it would yield a lead towards finding her. As was common in those days, this inadvertently started a new thread on each of those forums…that of honoring those teachers who most influenced the direction of our lives.

However, it did not bring about the desired outcome.

I did not find her.

But I can still honor her***.


I have always wanted to thank-you for all you did to nurture my first forays into the world of classical guitar. I think you’d be proud of me. Not because I am anyone famous or great, but because you’d recognize the method of love I use in teaching others about our common bond: the classical guitar...


*a term bandied about along with riding the internet highway in the earlier days of internet development.

**The original ClassicalGuitarList and the LuteList are both going strong after all these years…

***Please find & read my Open Letter page neatly nestled between the PTM and DMW pages on the menu bar as part of my newly revised website.

39 Comments

  1. petespringerauthor

    As a former elementary teacher for thirty-one years, I can tell you that teachers treasure these letters. They reinforce the belief that many of us hold deep within—that what we do matters. I have a stack of them that I go through from time to time. On the last day of each school year, I used to give out my address in the hopes that I would hear from a few in the summer. They never let me down. In fact, there are still a few that I correspond with today, decades later. When a student takes the time to write to a teacher, I think it is their way of telling their teacher, “Look at what, I’ve become. Thank you.” There is no better feeling than that. Here is a piece I wrote recently about one of my former students. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/an-impressive-young-man/ I’m sure you can feel my pride. I was touched that his father reached out to me in the comments.

    We had an incredible music teacher at my elementary school named Mr. Jain. He used to wander out onto the playground and hold impromptu music concerts. He would walk around and the kids would follow him as he was playing for them. It was so moving! At age sixty-one, I’m learning the guitar as he passed on an old guitar of his to me. As a musician, I’m sure you can understand that it’s a beautiful thought to know that I’m learning on an instrument that has already brought great joy to so many.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh teacher, you will love learning that guitar…it has a history and will guide your explorations!
      On my way to your rec’d post link.

  2. deborahbrasket

    What a lovely thing to do. You never know, your letter may reach her yet. So many have touched our lives over the years that we “forget” or never think to thank. You are an inspiration!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Deborah, you are sweet to say so…
      And yes, ‘it could happen’ – I’m still hopeful for that.

  3. zippyquilts

    An excellent idea! And gratitude is a good thing even if you never find the intended recipient.

  4. Andy

    I travelled over to read your letter, a great tribute of respect and gratitude.
    I also had in mind a teacher, a primary school teacher, who wrote in my ‘autograph book’ on leaving for high school: Dear Andrew, I hope you manage to get a book published one day’
    I was going to give her a copy of the first of my books, but have met similar failure. I hope somewhere, sometime, somehow, she knows.

    • laura bruno lilly

      She probably knew it was ‘bound to be’ when she scribbled her hopes in your autograph book…but the desire to share our successes is strong!
      BTW: I remember those ‘autograph books’…mine was red!

      • Andy

        She was a little aghast at my reading material-I read James Herbert when my classmates were bringing in Roald Dahl, but also told my Mum she passed my stories around the staff room for her colleagues to read. So maybe she figured that one fed the other.

        • laura bruno lilly

          Yikes! Pretty creepy stuff for sure…but then you ***were*** a boy. (Said in a sassy-mean girl voice)
          🙂

          • Andy

            Sassy Scout you are!

          • laura bruno lilly

            😀

  5. Jennie

    Hats off to you, Laura!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, teacher!

      • Jennie

        You’re welcome, Laura. 🙂

  6. Jennie Fitzkee

    This is just wonderful! I have done the same thing, sometimes finding the teacher and sometimes not. Saying thank you never grows old.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Very true…and I’m sure you have a long trail of students seeking you out after they’ve become older – well I know that to be true for sure as I’ve enjoyed several of your blog posts about many of their surprise visits to your classroom! Yep, teachers touch lives and need to know that!
      hugs

  7. Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

    Fingers crossed that this letter will find its way to your beloved teacher. But, even if it doesn’t, you’ve sent these wonderful words out into the universe for us all – and, hopefully, “all” includes some teachers – to read and consider. I was lucky enough to reconnect with my first grade teacher who taught me a lot about becoming someone who loved learning.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I remember that post! Very sweet and a huge ‘wow’.

  8. Jane's Heartsong

    I think it is very important to thank our teachers. I have seen those stories when someone contacted a teacher years later and told them how special they were to their development. This surprised the former teacher who felt lonely and was wondering if they made a difference. Writing this is special, and I hope all teachers who read this know that you did influence a few of your students and you are not forgotten. I did let the teachers who last taught me a couple of years ago that I appreciated their support.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’m so glad to hear of your success in relaying your appreciation to a former teacher…like you say, it is often a surprise to them!

  9. anne54

    It is lovely to acknowledge the person who showed you the possibilities of classical guitar. Sometimes we forget these very beginnings of our passions, and think about those who helped us further along the path.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I like how you put it: someone who showed me the ***possibilities***
      Thanks for commenting, Anne.

  10. Laura

    Wonderful tribute, Laura! I sure hope that somehow your show of gratitude reaches her! 🙂

  11. rl2b2017

    Hi Laura! LOVE this. And I have on my bucket list to learn to play the guitar . . . someday soon, I hope. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      I hope you have access to an instrument! Harder to come by than instructors – Zoom or not!
      Best wishes.

  12. gulfcoastpoet@gmail.com

    Nice tribute to your teacher, Laura! Take care. Cheryl

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Cheryl! You take care also.

  13. Ma

    I hope your teacher does find and read your letter so that she knows that she made a difference to your life. It’s an accolade and I commend you for writing the letter and putting it out there.

  14. snakesinthegrass2014

    A really nice letter, Laura. It’s nice when we can honor those who really gave us something important earlier in life. – Marty

  15. Jill Weatherholt

    Wonderful letter, Laura. Showing thanks and gratitude is so important. I’m not so sure the younger generous is being taught the importance of such gestures. When I was in the third grade, I loved our local weatherman. He’s was an older man, reminded me of the grandfather I never had. Anyway, one day I decided I wanted to write him a thank you card for his excellent weather forecasting. To my surprise, he actually read it on air! I’ll never forget that.

    • laura bruno lilly

      What an impact that must have made for you, too! Talk about re-enforcement of gratitude values in a kid’s everyday life!
      Wonderful, Jill.

  16. Ally Bean

    A lovely letter that is both sincere– and a bittersweet reminder that we all need to say thank you in the moment more often. I surfed the net, btw. Loved doing that back in the day. *sigh*

    • laura bruno lilly

      Surfing the ‘net also meant treading water for a long time while stuff downloaded – line by line – remember?
      HA! You’re right about being in the moment with our kindnesses and gratitude.

  17. L. Marie

    That’s so awesome, Laura! I love that you wanted to reach out to this special teacher in your life. I hope someone recognizes the description and clues you wrote about in the letter (like the Carcassi Method for Classical Guitar). I hope she can be found!

    I remember a special teacher I had for two grades–Mrs. Nave. She died awhile back. But I sent her some of the books I wrote, since she encouraged me to write.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, I knew you’d get it, L.Marie.
      As for those clues, more like the neon sign eighth note on The Boulder Music Store on Pearl Street than the Carcassi Method…one of the standards in guitar pedagogy like you writers have in writing. However, it did reveal the level of expertise she brought with her to the teaching table especially during those times.
      I am so glad you were able to connect with your special teacher…a blessing for you both I have no doubt.

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