Friday, October 23, 2020

  1.                                                          Students





When looking back on my musical career and my connection with the tuba, the most gratifying and fulfilling aspect of my 70 years in the tuba business, is seeing the success of my students. Of course, my memories are rich with symphony orchestra concerts, films, television and recordings in the Hollywood studios plus my own solo performances and solo recordings. However, the most significant accomplishments for me were clearly the teaching processes with my students. Leonardo Da Vinci once said, It’s the duty of the student to surpass the teacher; I’m proud to have experienced that several times in my teaching career. It’s also the duty of the teacher to guide the student so that can 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 than 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 year when giving a lesson to my old student from twelve years before, Diana Cardona. Diana was a very nice girl (a tubist) I met on the Internet 12 years ago. She came to Japan occasionally to study and four years ago I had the opportunity to teach and to hear her again at the Italian Brass Week in Firenze, Italy. 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 fine tubist. 


Diana is a Colombian citizen and she clearly had made the right decision 8 years ago to 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 online 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 12 years ago but that just points out that the learning process never stops, the teacher must always remain a student. 


I was thrilled this morning when receiving an email from Diana telling me that she had received her Masters degree from Universite de Paris and Consevatoire de Versailles, teaches tuba and euphonium in 3 different conservatoriesies plus conducts a youth band, plays in 2 brass quintets, has 2 symphony orchestra concerts this weekend and will perform Ein Heldenleben with another orchestra next month. This is a remarkable success story considering this is during a time when COVID-19 is causing many musical events to simply come to a stop. At this time and at any time, it’s a very good feeling to see a student successfully making their living centered around music and particularly with the tuba.



Certainly, I will continue to watch Diana Cardona. Subsequent to Diana’s lesson, I was fortunate to have another memorable learning experience. During a week of classes I gave at the at the Zurich Conservatory when Diana came to Zurich to visit and to take a lesson with the maestro Anne Jelle Visser. Not only did I enjoy hearing Diana play again but I was hugely impressed by observing my old friend and student since the early 90s in his present role as the highly successful tuba professor of the Zurich Conservatry.





                      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.


I’ve seen my grand students surpassing my students and I hope to live long enough to see my great-grand students surpassing my grand students




August 1, 2015, Firenze, Italia


Revised October 23, 2020, Oaxaca, Mexico