Inspired by a legend
Updated: Aug 20
At the age of 7 years old, I decided I wanted to play the violin more than anything in the world. As the 3rd out of 7 children in a single-income household, I'm sure that the thought of helping their daughter realize her dream came with fearful dollar signs in my parents' eyes.
Enter Dr. Pat O'Boyle.... aka a modern-day saint.
Dr. Pat charged 50 cents and a prayer for each lesson and somehow found a way to make sure every one of her hundreds of students received the same amount of time and care. She always had spare strings, bows, violins, etc. for us for when something went wrong. No child was ever without the resources they needed to make music. And music we made...
Dr. Pat has taught hundreds of children violin over the years, many of whom would never have been able to access quality music lessons without her generous spirit.
One day, I hope to bring my business to a place where I can charge 50 cents and a prayer for my lessons, just like Dr. Pat. I never want a lack of ability to pay deter students from fulfilling their dreams, and so I have made a commitment that I will work with any family who is struggling financially to help bring violin lessons to them.
Last year, I visited Dr. Pat, now in her 90s, at her home. We spent time laughing and catching up, but the most precious part of my visit was getting to play with her again. We played "Irish Washerwoman", the first Irish fiddle tune she ever taught me, and then she sat down and asked me to play for her for a while. Her eyes welled with tears and she told me I was "her best girl" and that she was so proud of me.
Even in my late 20s, the validation of my childhood music teacher filled me with so much joy and in that moment I knew that I had to carry on her legacy. Every lesson I give has a little bit of Dr. Pat in it. Every tune I play has a little bit of her sound flowing through it.
I love making music because the person who taught me how to make it loved every squeak, mistake, milestone, broken string, tear, laughter, frustration, and joy involved in teaching it to me.
There will never be another teacher like Dr. Pat, but I am grateful to have her as my inspiration while I teach every one of my students.