As part of my teaching techniques class I've sat in on two lessons by tuba/euphonium teacher Rex Martin. They have been fascinating lessons--he has a real knack for diagnosing playing issues in students and coming up with a whole host of means by which to fix them. He uses tools that range from breathing machines, to embouchure imagers, to software that detects and displays decibel levels, overtone makeup, and note shape. Though many things are quite different between how a tubist and a trumpeter have to play, (perhaps most notably: the common misconception that trumpeters need a lot of air to play--Tubists certainly need the air quantity, while for trumpeters, the key is compression. Maybe I'll talk more about this in a later post...I'm sure some of you might already be disagreeing with me) I've learned a lot about how to conduct a lesson and how to use creative problem-solving techniques to help a student improve.
ANYWAY...for the first few weeks of school, whenever I'd run into professor Martin or even just pass him at a distance, he'd always wave or say "hello!" I was puzzled at first because we'd never been introduced. I started to think, "Huh...well I guess it's nice that everyone is so welcoming to new students." When I came in for the first observation I introduced myself and he said, "I am so sorry, I think I've been mistaking you for someone else." He then told me about his acquaintance with a female Norwegian tuba player who supposedly looks exactly like me. "She doesn't just look like your sister," he said, "she looks like YOU! Same glasses...puts her hair up the same...everything." I told him I had some Norwegian ancestors and he replied, "Well, I think I must know some of your ancestors!"
When I came in for the second observation a couple weeks later, he seemed so disturbed by my appearance that he paused the lesson to go see if he could find a picture of her on his facebook. "I keep looking over and seeing you and think that you'll respond to me with in a Norwegian accent!" Even our names are similar--I think he said hers is (pronounced...I don't know the spelling) "Keeree." "You don't speak Norwegian do you?" he asked. "Nope," I said, "just one word in Danish, [referring to: ruuuul-gruuuul-mel fluuul-PO!] which I think is similar to Norwegian." Unfortunately he was not able to find a picture of her for me. For the next few minutes he kept glancing over at me and giving me weird looks till finally he just turned his chair around and faced away from me and towards his student--where his attention should have been going in the first place. I apologized to the student later for being such a disruption.