I learned yesterday that my bagpipe teacher of many years, Winter Taylor, suddenly passed away in Atlanta. I was heart broken and saddened beyond words at the news. Winter (I refused to call her Winnie) had spent countless hours with me in her basement studio working on fixing my great lack of musical talent. She was kind, supportive and most of all truly patient. A better teacher I could not have had.
I picked up my practice chanter yesterday evening and ran through some of the tunes that Winter had helped me with. Her words echoed in my mind as if she were sitting right next to me, admonishing me to make every note clean, crisp, and clear. She was a great proponent of simple music played well instead of flashy tunes played sloppily.
As I played, working through our favorite piobaireachd- MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart's Lament, I came to understand the special relationship between a student and his teacher, and that her words and spirit continue to live within me and my sometimes sloppy fingering. I can't help but smile.