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...hurts worse than all the big and generalized ones.

Almost ten years ago I began teaching a talented young man who had developed an interest in the musical traditions I've studied and performed since 1977.  

He was a student at the college where I teach, and everyone recognized his extraordinary musicianship and drive to learn.

He didn't have money to pay for vocal lessons, so I agreed to a barter arrangement, and for the next several years he worked on my house — and I gave him lessons, sometimes two or three times a week.  I taught him unstintingly, with dedication and attention to detail.

He also took lessons in sitar from my wife, a fine musician and an excellent teacher, who gave equally generously without any expectation of compensation beyond the work that he was already doing.

Fast forward a few years, and skip below the short and curlies.

He moved to the West coast and was accepted as a student by some of the leading lights of the profession.  He got a Fulbright and went to India to study some more.

One day I noticed that he'd omitted my wife's name from the list of teachers on his website.  I emailed and asked him to fix that.  (One thing about Indian tradition: you honor your teachers.  Failure to do so is not just an oversight, but a grave social error.)  He responded that "there wasn't enough room" to include her name (WTF?).

I spent a long time writing back and forth with him, trying to explain something about my adopted culture, and why this was a bigger deal than he obviously thought it was.  He eventually updated his bio and sent me a nice email, so the matter lapsed.

Fast forward another few years.

Now I'm not on his bio either (only more famous musicians!).  And his response to my inquiry about it on a facebook thread?

I have learned a lot from many people and I am grateful to all those who have helped me on my musical path. And I have chosen to honor those who show respect for me as a student, and my commitment to learning.

I am so, so disappointed in someone for whom I once had such high hopes.

Originally posted to WarrenS' Blog on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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