I was one of the lucky ones as I began taking private lessons from Mr. Klausner (I cannot to this day call him Tibor) in 1970, when I was in the 9th grade. I found it a bit tricky in the beginning to understand his thick accent, but that just made me listen even more carefully to everything he had to say. I continued studying with him through high school and then UMKC. Once I graduated and began teaching elementary strings, I missed the private lessons, and after a year “off,” resumed lessons until my son Andrew was born. The last piece I learned was “Carmen” — while I was seven months pregnant.
Whether teaching my students or practicing on my own at home, I constantly hear Mr. K’s voice (with the great accent) telling me how best to practice a tricky passage. And anyone who took lessons from him knew to begin every practice session with scales, scales, and more scales (which I hated back then, but now practice everyday). Similar to Ricky Ricardo’s “Aye, yi, yi, yi, yi”… Mr. K. had several expressions he used to show his pleasure or concern about a particular passage. When I would reach a passionate section (once I was married, of course) he would say in his thick accent, “Sink of Dabid” (my husband) which unfortunately made me laugh rather than emote passion.
I was lucky enough to attend lots of Mr. K’s symphony, quartet, and duo concerts over the years. Not only was he inspiring to watch and listen to – I loved how he often made eye contact with Carla. They have such a special bond to this day! He still looks at her with such a twinkle in his eye.
Jennifer Mitchell taught elementary strings in the Shawnee Mission Public Schools for 36 years. Now retired, she continues to play with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, where she serves as Chair of the Educational Outreach Committee. She and her musical partner, Don Goldenbaum, perform Educational Outreach programs for PreSchool thru 5th grade students (over 2,500 students so far) around the greater Kansas City area. Jennifer plays violin every Sunday at her church and also performs regularly at six residential care facilities for adults with physical and mental needs.