|Timothy McNulty, Obituary: Ethan M. Stang / Former piccolo player with PSO, music teacher at Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 6)|
Jerry Vondas, Woodwind performer known nationwide (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 5)
What made him such a memorable teacher was his affable manner and the way that he took care of his students. Mrs. Ionarts remembers that a one-hour lesson, for which Mr. Stang received students at his house in Squirrel Hill rather than a campus studio, would turn into two hours and then an invitation to dinner. In the leadup to recitals or juries, Mr. Stang would routinely schedule multiple lessons per week for his students, without any expectation of compensation. In my experience, this is a far more effective teaching manner than the aggressive, driving sort that prevails in many conservatories. As for Mr. Stang's famous sense of humor, Mrs. Ionarts recalls that her teacher would make prank phone calls, harmless, for example, calling the grocery store and asking a clerk silly questions. He loved Halloween and costumes, in general, and had a child's spirit of wonder and whimsy. Mrs. Ionarts says there are still little stickers that Mr. Stang put on her music during lessons. In the picture shown here, taken by Mrs. Ionarts during a lesson at Mr. Stang's home, he is showing us a stuffed walrus (a gift from Mrs. Ionarts) that he believed he resembled.
We all, not only musicians, have memorable teachers, but Mr. Stang was one of the best. If your teacher is still alive, give him or her a call, because one day you won't be able to do that anymore. Memorials may be made to the Temple Sinai Fund for the Future, 5505 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15217 or the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, 600 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh 15222.