In my professional life, my undergraduate piano teacher Robert Spillman was my greatest influence. He is a polymath: solo pianist, vocal coach, opera conductor, chamber musician, composer, and writer. He does it all, and he does it well. I learned so many things from Bob. The majority of my technical approach to the piano comes from him, as does my pedagogical outlook.
Bob always demanded the best I had to offer, and was never afraid to say “No, that’s not good enough.” He teaches via the Socratic method--if something isn’t working, he will try to lead you to the right solution using questions, forcing you to think for yourself.
Almost as important, he makes students think of music’s intersection with society and culture, using imagery and historical references that many teachers would never think to employ. If you study with him, you learn a lot more than just how to play the piano!
I had excellent teachers before and after working with Bob, but he is unique in the awe-inspiring totality of his gifts. I use what he taught me every day in my own teaching, and I can safely say that I am a teacher today because of him.