Thursday, December 9, 2010

Remembering Homer Mensch

Today I am remembering the late, great Homer Mensch who died five years ago today. I had the honor of studying with Mr. Mensch while I was a student at the Manhattan School. I could tell you all about the wonderful things he did professionally but instead I'd like to add a few personal quips...

One of my favorite things was his level of "casual" professionalism. Every week I would take a lesson from him in his own apartment and every week, without fail, he would be waiting for me with shined shoes and a freshly pressed shirt. He showed respect to everyone. Even the scrubby kid in the Dead Kennedy's tee shirt with half her hair burned off because her "friend at NYU" tried to bleach it the night before. He was the classiest man I've ever known.

He also had a "phone crush" on my mom. Now, he never once met my mother but would tell me week after week about "what a lovely woman she is" because she would chat with him occasionally when he called to schedule lessons. Obviously he had good taste. My mom rules.

He only drank decaf. He taught almost 50 lessons a week and only drank decaf. That's impressive.

He played on the original soundtrack to Jaws. Du-duh. Du-duh. Du-duh. You've all heard him and he invokes fear in you! Du-duh. Du-duh du-duh du-duh duduhdudhudhudhhdudhdudhhdhduhbgdhjduduhdh! JAWS!

He was a total badass tennis player. Seriously. Almost went pro.

He was a pretty good tuba player too.

He would casually refer to the one and only Mr. Leonard Bernstein as "Lenny" as if you all were the best of friends. I thought that was so cool.

I could go on about all the little things I remember about my time with Mr. Mensch but the underlying point is that he was one of the most influential people in my life. In ways he probably never realized he affected me so positively. He was an amazing man who offered his time and knowledge to so many young musicians. When I visited with him years after graduating he welcomed me into his home as he always did and showed interest in my personal endeavors in an almost grandfatherly sort of way. I feel lucky to have studied and spent time with such a man. A true legend.