March 25, 2007 — In junior high school, I had a music teacher named Norman “Duke” McGuirl, who was a versatile, accomplished musician. His first love was the saxophone, but he could coax music from a bassoon or even a French horn. In a class that ranged from the offspring of professional musicians to the hopelessly tone deaf, he knew which butt needed kicking, who would benefit from milder forms of encouragement and who would be better suited to working as a roadie. He also liked to sneak the odd Rothmans king-size in the rehearsal room, a no-no even then.*

In hindsight, I think Duke was someone who had been around and—unlike many high school teachers—knew how the world worked. And he loved music. Passionately.

One of Duke’s favorite sayings (and the recollection that prompted this post) was, “Doctors bury their mistakes. The rest of us have to live with them.”

I understand that Duke died a couple of years ago, but I am grateful for that piece of advice. It’s been a source of perspective when things don’t quite go according to plan.

* These recollections are almost certainly flawed. If you have a correction, send it through and I’ll post an update.