Maestro Keller Was Bad for Me

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“Keller was bad for me, the worst possible teacher.” Do you agree?

Keller, as Paul’s piano teacher, was both a positive and negative influence in Paul’s life. It would be understandable for Paul to feel as if Keller “was bad for him, the worst possible teacher”, judging from the way he later narrates his life. Keller’s mysterious past and renunciation of music ruled his teaching style, subsequently suppressing Paul’s musical passion. In spite of this, it would be more reasonable to believe that Keller’s teaching methods suited Paul at the time of his “youthful arrogance” and kept him grounded. It is only when Keller almost departs Paul’s life entirely, that the adult Paul begins to realise and appreciate Keller for the great “Maestro” he was.

First impressions can often be misleading. Not used to being critised and having very disciplined lessons, Paul initially refers to Keller as a “Nazi”, failing to understand the word for what it really meant. However, Keller’s overly strict teaching style was not entirely professional. It was the result of his dark past, and a “father’s hardness”. The murdering of Keller’s wife and son in Austria destroyed Keller as a person. For this reason, he repressed any emotional attachment he had that was associated with the guilt, and his home. Keller declared that “nothing could make [him] homesick”, demonstrating the depth of pain he incurred. This became evident in the passing of the priceless, signed first edition Czerny manuscript while Paul was in Adelaide. The only way Keller showed affection was “at a distance, carelessly, as if it meant nothing”. It was unfortunate for Paul, only a teenager, to bear the burden of such destruction.

As a result of the heart wrenching experience he endured in his past, Keller lost his love for life and past his disillusionment on to Paul. Keller’s setback on life made him view the world in a cynical way, and although the “textbook” was seen as educating, it was wrongfully conveyed to...
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