When looking back on my musical career and particularly at my connection with the tuba, it seems the most gratifying and fulfilling aspect of my 60 years in the tuba business is seeing the success of my students. Of course, my memories are rich with symphony orchestra concerts over the world, films, television and recordings in the Hollywood studios and my own solo performances and solo recordings. However, the most significant accomplishments for me were clearly the teaching process with my students. Da Vinci once said, It’s the duty of the student to surpass the teacher; I’m proud to have experienced that many times in my teaching career. Teachers need to remember it’s also the duty of the teacher to help that happen.
A joke that I’ve made in the past is that how angry it makes me to listen to a student who has not studied with me for a long period of time, reappear in my life and sound stunningly better that the last time. The joke continues: How rude for a student to return after years of separation since the last lesson and to sound enormously better. I was thrilled last week when giving a lesson to my old student from four years ago, Diana Cardona. Diana was a very nice girl (a tubist) I met on the Internet five years ago, mistakenly I never took her seriously as a tubist. One week ago at the Italian Brass week in Firenze, Italy, I had the opportunity to teach and to hear her again. I was happily amazed that she had become a world-class tubist with the tone, technique the power and especially the musicality of a truly great tubist.
Diana is a Colombian citizen and she clearly had made the right decision four years ago to go study in France, the first 2 years in the Conservatoire de Perpignan studying with Harumi Baba the next 2 years in the Conservatoire de Versailles with David Zambon. While communicating with her on line for those 5 years I was impressed when she would tell me she usually practiced six hours a day; it abundantly paid off! I feel a little ashamed that I didn’t see that potential 5 years ago but that just points out that the learning process never stops, the teacher must always remain a student. Certainly, I will continue to watch Diana Cardona. Subsequent to Diana’s lesson, I was fortunate to have another memorable learning experience.
Anne Jelle Visser and Roger Bobo
Naturally, it’s logical that the quality of teaching would also evolve with time; hopefully, that evolution will also surpass that of the teacher. I had the pleasure of observing the Zurich Conservatory tuba professor, 10 year member of the Zurich Opera orchestra and my student of 25 years ago, Anne Jelle Visser, teaching Diana Cardona. There was much more to watching and listening to this lesson than that both teacher and student were part of my teaching history. Anne Jelle Visser has become a true master teacher of the highest level and observing this lesson was a classical learning experience for me, it was the teacher learning from the student.
There is a visible and audible connection from brass generation to generation and if I have been an influence in this evolution that is always in motion in our unique community I’m proud and content. Things seem to be developing very well.
August 1, 2015, Firenze, Italia