Many years ago, as I was about to graduate from Yale School of Music, I was facing the big dilemma of what I should do next. One option was to stay in school and to try and get a doctoral degree. I knew by then, that this is something I would be interested in pursuing in the future. I also knew already that I loved teaching. I asked myself if I should try and get a teaching position. In the end I realized that after being so many years in school I was more interested in playing and in performing. Finally, I decided to audition for a position in the Israel Sinfonietta and I was lucky to get in. As the years went by, I was facing similar dilemmas with my students: the other day, one of my students asked me which of the schools she was accepted to I thought she should attend. With the risk of not being very helpful I answered that the first and probably most important consideration is the teacher she would like to study with.
It reminded me of the movie “Karate Kid”, where Daniel asks his mother to help him find a Karate teacher. The active search for the right teacher for each student can also be found In the Jewish tradition: “Make for yourself a rabbi” (aseh lecha rav).
I have learned over the years that students have various expectations when looking for a teacher. Some students judge by results. I know students who look up on the internet the statistics about certain teachers to find out how many of their students got jobs. Along the same line, some students want to know how strong the teachers’ connections are and how influential he or she is. Other students will want to know more about the methods teachers use or about the teachers’ background, (for example who he studied with). Many will ask what kind of person the teacher is and what values he stands for.
For me, as a teacher, it is always difficult to decide how much to get involved and how much to try and influence the students’ decision. What I do tell them is, that it is not only what they will learn that matters: In the introduction to my book “Mr. Karr, Would You Teach Me How to Drive a Double Bass?”, I discuss some things that I have absorbed while studying and while being around Maestro Gary Karr. Much of what I learned in my life, I forgot. That which I have absorbed stays with me forever.
 – Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), Part 1:6
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