Eastman School of Music reports that Professor Emerita of Violin Lynn Blakeslee passed away last evening in Germany. Professor Blakeslee joined the Eastman faculty in 1987 and retired in spring 2013.
Zeneba Bowers, of the Nashville Symphony, writes:
This morning I awoke to learn the news that my college violin professor and friend Lynn Blakeslee passed away yesterday in Germany. It’s impossible for me to overstate Lynn’s impact on my professional life. I got in to a lot of schools but I chose Eastman because I knew I needed to be a tiny fish in a big pond. When I got there I was definitely at the bottom of the pack, in terms of playing.
My freshman year, I broke the middle and ring fingers on my left hand, which didn’t help matters. Lynn still had me come to every lesson. We worked on my bow arm, with the violin being held up in the crook of my cast on the left hand. Lynn was hard on me — really hard. In the six years I studied with her, she never saw me cry — but I often cried the moment the door closed behind me. In my senior year, she tapped me to be her graduate assistant, a position I held for the next three years, as I chose to stay at Eastman so I could study with her for my Masters. I learned so much from her about teaching, and being her graduate assistant remains one of the most important things I’ve ever done.
I credit her with completely changing my technique, helping me diagnose technical problems in myself and others so I can solve problems on my own, and giving me the thick skin I needed to make it in this tough business. A compliment from her was something to treasure — you knew you earned it. Last year she came to visit me here in Nashville. She was headed out on a post-retirement tour of the US, something that was very unusual for her, as she rarely took time off. She had softened quite a bit, we shared a few great meals together, she saw a concert, and we spent time together drinking wine and reminiscing. Lynn was an excellent cook, and often opened her home to her students for big dinner parties. She was an extremely dedicated teacher who was in it for the long haul with her students. She was a fantastic violinist whose musicianship inspired me. She will be sorely missed. Godspeed, Lynn.