Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tribute to a beloved teacher

I cannot let this go by with out saying something. This last Monday, Barbara Belnap, my beloved voice teacher, passed away. Even though I took lessons from her over twenty four years ago, I can't believe she's gone. She was the kind of person you thought would live forever. Barbara was my mentor, my friend, my stability during a very rocky time.

Back in high school my parents didn't have a lot of money. My older sister, Tina, had taken lessons with Barbara by going to her house right after school and accompanying her other students while they sang. Then Tina had her lesson at the end of 2 or 3 hours of playing for the others. For free.

Barbara let me do this too. At first, it was frightening and I didn't play well. Barbara never made a comment about my atrocious piano skills, but I still got my lessons for free. I took from her for three years solid. I adored her. Practically worshiped her. For three years, I spent a whole afternoon and evening at her house once a week. I can't even tell you how much she taught me, and not just about music either.

I remember my senior recital vividly, standing in the crook of her big, grand piano, singing my heart out. She taught me confidence that I'd never had until that point. I was so shy, so insecure. I wasn't the only one she did this for either. She made each student feel like they were more important to her than air.

I feel like I've had the wind knocked out of my sails at the news of her death. Don't people like her live forever? I think they're supposed to. Others will have to rise up and take her place, giving young people a sense of belonging, of importance. But who's qualified? At the moment, I don't have an answer. Maybe me someday.

For those interested in attending her funeral, here is the info.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely tribute! It reminds me of my childhood music teachers who have all passed away. I am so looking forward to seeing them again!

And hooray for your new blog look! I really like this template. It's a bright new beginning! Very symbolic. I find that changing a template or moving furniture around is very therapeutic!!!

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I took voice lessons from my voice teacher for 8 years. For the first 6 or 7, she scared the crud out of me! Sometime in my senior year of high school, though, I realized she had become a friend. She also has a very special place in my heart. Here's to great people.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful woman. I didn't even know her, but after reading this I feel as though I've lost her too.

I love what you said about how we need to step up and take the place of women like this. It's a good thing that she taught you all she did. In doing that, she's taught you how to be this kind of woman!

Old Kitty said...

Oh I am so sorry to hear of your wonderful teacher, Barbara Belnap's passing. What an amazing and wonderful woman. What a great teacher!! Please pass on my sincerest condolences to her family. She was truly a unique and brilliant teacher.

Take care

The Red Angel said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this, I know this must be a really hard time for you. It's always extremely difficult having to say goodbye to someone you were close to, especially when their leave actually mentally hits you. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers!


Suzy Turner said...

This was a very sad post to read... I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of such a wonderful lady. Clearly she was very special and was a great influence in your life.
The truth is that people like this do live forever... in our memories. She will always be remembered.
Best wishes

Dan said...

I'm sure she would be proud that she had such an influence in your life.

I consider myself fortunate that I'm having a book party next week, and my favorite teacher from junior high school, who encouraged me to write, will be attending.

We all have people who make a difference in our lives, but it sometimes feels like fewer and fewer people appreciate them. Thank you for being one of them.

Anstice Potts (Tizzy) said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. I understand what you mean about believing that people like that should live forever. My beloved primary school headmaster was one of the most wonderful and inspiring people I've ever met, and in 2005 when I heard of his accidental death (he was only in his fifties) I was completely shocked and heartbroken. Five years on I can look back at all the happy memories and feel lucky to have known him, but sometimes I still find it hard to believe he's really gone. When you look up to people like that you think of them as magical and immortal, not as ordinary human beings. But at least they are never forgotten, they are remembered fondly by so many students and their wisdom influences us in so many ways, so I suppose they do achieve a kind of immortality.

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Talei said...

Oh this is sad, and what a lovely tribute you've posted. Teachers have such an impact on our lives, its sad when the good ones pass on. I had one teacher who I'll always remember, she was wonderful, there will always be a special place in my heart for her.

Please do pop over to mine when you have a few minutes, I have a special award for you.

Dominic de Mattos said...

Hi Melissa ... I found my way here from Talei's blog - nice to meet you! It is so sad when people who had such a profound influence on our lives pass away. There is a feeling that somehow they take away with them the something special they planted in our lives, but, of course, that thing they planted long ago grew and blossomed and planted seeds of its own. Their legacy lives on in those we inspire.

Sandy said...

What a beautiful tribute to this woman who had such an impact on your life. I think there is a special place in heaven for teachers.

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

What a nice tribute. She probably enjoyed it as much as you.

Marianne Arkins said...

She left behind an amazing tribute -- I imagine she couldn't be any more pleased by the affect she had on you (and likely many others). What a wonderful legacy.

Emailman said...

Awww, mate :( That is so sad. I'm sorry to hear you lost someone so important to you.

You have done her proud with this wonderful tribute. If only everyone in the world was just like her, what a great place our world would be.


Kittie Howard said...

What a beautiful legacy. I'm sorry for your loss. Kim said it well: what a wonderful woman; I feel like I knew her. Actually, I need a tissue, my eyes misted up. Yes, Melissa, you'll take her place. You've got the heart to do it.

Debbie said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your teacher. Your tribute to her is very touching. Sad such wonderful people can't live forever.

Wanted you to know that I just left you a Versatile Blogger Award at my blog -- stop by to claim and pass it on when you get a chance.

Take care.

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