Katie Birtles

From age 6 to 18, I went to weekly piano lessons with the same teacher.

Nearly every Friday afternoon, I would go to her house, skip downstairs to the music room, and greet her with a beaming smile.

This woman was one of the most spirited and kind-hearted people I have ever met. She emanated a wildly joyous energy. She reminded me of a sunflower.

And she was patient. She was the one who sat by me for hours and hours, teaching me the dynamics of music.

She remained by this little girl, banging her way through all the flats and sharps and finger stretching chords.

I imagine she endured some pretty awful, painful stuff in the beginning.

One day, I was playing for her, a piece that I had been practicing and refining for some weeks.

I felt the rush of the melody flow up through my fingertips, the rest of my body daring not to move. My face was in creases, my heart in my mouth, as I surged and weaved through the chords. I breathlessly ushered out the final, poignant notes and released my stiffened spine, resting my shivering hands in my lap.

I heard a sharp intake of breath from my beautiful piano teacher, and looked over to see tears coursing down her face.

She started clapping loudly, a smile splitting over her face.

“Oh Katie that was beautiful, just beautiful! That was absolute magic to watch. Oh you’ve made me cry!” she laughed as she reached for a tissue.

I felt warm inside, knowing I had finally reached an emotional connection with the music I played.

And knowing I had given my teacher, the sunflower, a moment of warmth within her too.

I could see it radiating through her bright, shining eyes.

Shambhavi Tripathi

When I returned from my college to my home these summer vacations; my younger sister (she’s in standard 5) gave this to me as soon as I entered inside.

Image Credit: Shambhavi Tripathi

Dear sister,
Welcome back. Thanks for coming. I was getting bored without you. Please play with me or i will get bored again. It’s been a long time since I have seen you. I have not much to write so I think this is the end. All the best for whatever you do. My wishes will always be with you. Thanks for reading and giving your precious time. You are great. I’m proud of you and your hard-work. Good to see you.


I am proud to be the sister of Shambhavi Tripathi.

This was undoubtedly the nicest thing anybody has said about me! :-)

Richard Muller

“Professor Muller, what are your politics?”

I immediately told the student who asked that question that it was the finest compliment I had ever received. I was teaching material that was full of controversy and politics, everything from global warming to the use of nuclear weapons to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fact that this student could not tell my politics was wonderful; I had achieved my goal of objectivity. I did not come across as an obvious Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or anything else.

Then, of course, I didn’t tell him what my politics are. In fact, I’m not sure how to describe them. In every election I try to vote for the person best suited for the job. I vote for Democrats, Republicans, and (not as frequently) others. Do I have politics? I’m not sure.

Afterwards I spoke to a very famous professor, one who is loved by his students (as nearly as I can tell). I told him about this “compliment” and he was surprised. He said to me, “I consider it my duty to let the students know how they should vote.” I was horrified. This professor continues to be a good friend of mine, but I strongly disagree with him about the proper role of being a professor.

Via Quora