Alan's Blog...It's all Gesamtkunstwerk to me!

Thoughts from nearly 40 years on the professional stage

A Very Special Teacher and Friend

There is a difference between teaching and Teaching. There is a difference between being a mentor and a Mentor. There is a difference between being a friend and a Friend. Linda Schepper was one of the greatest influences on my life in all three capacities. I have cherished every moment knowing her since I first began studying piano with her as a grade school student. Some of you may remember her husband, who was my band instructor, Jack Schepper, passed away last Fall. Last evening, Linda went to be with him. There are few people who have had a more patient, gentle, and loving spirit...always with a smile...always with such grace. She was an amazing teacher and one of my absolute favorite people. Her talents as a teacher and as a performing pianist were so inspirational to many. She was a pillar of my life. I have so many memories and stories of our days at the piano bench. She also was one of the most influential people to lead me towards Millikin University where both she and Jack were alums. She accompanied me at a solo contest, when I was just trying out my voice to see what came out, back when I was a senior in high school. The judge, after I sang, tried to get me to attend Bradley University where he was the head of the voice department. Linda spoke up immediately and said, "Oh, no!!! He's Going to Millikin!!!" And, indeed I was. Some of my favorite chats with her over the years actually had nothing to do with music. She was so kind and generous to so many...her crocheted garments and blankets are cherished by my family. When my oldest son was born, she made a gorgeous sweater and hat for him...and we were so moved to have his daughter (my granddaughter) wear them 3 decades later. Each of our four children received a beautiful work of art upon their birth. Her love for students when they were actively working with her was apparent...and that guidance and mentoring stayed active and with you long after you "graduated" from the studio. I can still remember the wonderful evening when she and Jack came up to Chicago for one of my performances. I was so honored to have these great mentors in the audience. But, one memory jumps out at me...One Saturday morning, when I was in junior high, I rode my bicycle to my piano lesson which was only about 3 blocks from my house. Along the way, I slipped in loose gravel and fell, badly tearing up my knee. I went ahead and pushed on to my lesson. When she saw me, she quickly took me in, cleaned me up, and showed great compassion and care...and that afternoon, I played on one of her recitals. We do have priorities, you know. I am so grateful for Linda (and for Jack). There will never be another like her. Greatly loved by so and always.