I just found out that flutist Sandra Seefeld passed away on February 17th. She was 69 years young. I didn't know her very well but I studied with her briefly for about a total of 2 weeks over a 3 year period from 2005-2008 at the Body Mapping, Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais course for flutists called Summerflute.
I'm sure that those closer to her can share more about her but I just needed to acknowledge that Sandy made a huge impact on my flute playing, teaching, and life even though I never spent that much time with her. Often we take a few lessons here and there with a teacher or go to a masterclass and learn things that we carry with us and pass on to our students for many years to come. I did tell Sandy that I learned a lot from her and thanked her in our few email exchanges since 2008 but I wish I had just sent her one more thank you note.
Sandy was a great teacher because she was an excellent listener. If she had an agenda or ego, I couldn't tell. She inspired me to take my first Qi Gong classes. She taught me to actively use my imagination while practicing and learning new pieces. She showed me how to have fun while practicing - something I had long lost in my college and post-college years - I'm not even sure that I *ever* knew that one could have fun while practicing. I'm sure that she would have given me excellent perspective on musical interpretation and technique, etc if that's what I needed at the time when I was working with her. She just knew what I needed at the time and that's why she is still such a huge influence on my playing and life. She didn't try to show me how she much she knew about everything (and I'm sure she knew pretty much everything!!) because she never made our interactions about her.
My last email exchange with Sandy was in March 2012 when she purchased my first CD and then emailed me to congratulate me. I should have sent her one when it came out to say thank you.
Moral of my story:
If you have had teachers who you still think of fondly, tell them now how much you appreciate them and thank them every year in a card or email. Even if you just took a handful of lessons with them. Don't just say, "oh, they won't remember me" and put it off. Even if they don't remember you, I'm sure they'd like a note. They won't live forever, unfortunately.
If you are a teacher now, you may have long lasting influence on a student that you've only taught in one lesson. Just remember that. Even on days when you are tired from teaching 10 hours in a row... what you do matters. Some random student might think that you're the best thing since the Boehm system or Cooper scale [flute humor, sorry] even after a couple lessons.
I'm sure there will be an obituary written up about Sandy Seefeld soon but here's what I know:
Sandy Seefeld taught for many years at the Miami University of Ohio. She studied at the Eastman School of Music and at Northwestern University. She gave a Carnegie Hall debut in 1981 that I'm sure was so much better than this limp review in the New York Times.
Sandy Seefeld was an amazing human being and flute teacher that changed my life.