Double Life Intertwined: The Teaching Life & Living with Music

Double Life Intertwined: The Teaching Life & Living with Music

By Robert DiYanni, New York University

For Mary Hammond DiYanni, whose teaching life inspires
all who have known her and been touched
by her generosity and kindness


For Karen DiYanni Peterson, daughter extraordinaire,
teacher supreme, and musician par excellence




Double Life Intertwined: The Teaching Life & Living with Music comprises two memoirs, each of which captures a significant part of my life and work and world. I have prepared two versions of this combined double memoir. In this volume, I have intertwined the memoirs, braiding them such that the numbered chapters zig-zag between them. You will find for each book a Preface, Table of Contents, and ten chapters, along with other end- of-book materials—Epilogue, Appendix, References, Suggested Readings, and Acknowledgements.

The benefit of putting the memoirs together in one volume is that you encounter my two different life perspective, each with its own cast of characters, each with its singular identity and a continuity unto itself. Unexpected connections and reverberations link the two memoirs in unpredictable ways.

I have also prepared another version of these two memoirs—that version simply puts the two memoirs back-to-back, The Teaching Life complete followed by Living with Music, also in its entirety. The separation of the two memoirs there is intentional. You can read through each volume individually as a single, coherent work.

I hope you enjoy my two memoirs in this integrated version. But if you are curious about the other, alternating version, you can find it under the title, Double Life: The Teaching Life & Living with Music.





Chapter 1 TL    Learning with High School Students

Chapter 1 LM   Youth and Music
Chapter 2 LM   College and Graduate School Music

Chapter 2 TL    Joining Educational Communities
Chapter 3 TL    Settling into the Teaching Life

Chapter 3 LM   Music in Young Adulthood
Chapter 4 LM   Favorite Popular Performers

Chapter 4 TL    Teaching in Cambridge and Taiwan
Chapter 5 TL    Teaching Across Programs

Chapter 5 LM   Teaching and Learning Music

Chapter 6 TL    Varied Teaching Venues
Chapter 6 LM   World Travels and Music

Chapter 7 TL    Ways of Teaching 
Chapter 8 TL    Teaching Literature

Chapter 7 LM   Classical Guitar Fever
Chapter 8 LM   Instruments and Players Potpourri

Chapter 9   TL  Teaching and Textbooks

Chapter 9   LM Musical Elegies
Chapter 10 LM Music and the Humanities

Chapter 10 TL  An Approach to Teaching


Epilogue / Appendix  

References and Suggested Readings

Acknowledgments and Recognitions


TABLE OF CONTENTS: The Teaching Life—Stories of Teaching and Learning


I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. —Albert Einstein


Prologue          Early Student Memories  



The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.—Anatole France

Chapter 1    Learning with High School Students

Chapter 2    Joining Educational Communities

Chapter 3    Settling into the Teaching Life

Chapter 4    Teaching in Cambridge and Taiwan

Chapter 5    Teaching Across Programs



The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.—William Arthur Ward

Chapter 6    Varied Teaching Venues

Chapter 7    Ways of Teaching

Chapter 8    Teaching Literature

Chapter 9    Teaching and Textbooks

Chapter 10  An Approach to Teaching


Epilogue / Appendix  

References and Suggested Readings

Acknowledgments and Recognitions


TABLE OF CONTENTS: Living with Music



Chapter One                Youth and Music

Chapter Two               College and Grad School Music

Chapter Three            Music in Young Adulthood

Chapter Four              Favorite Popular Performers

Chapter Five               Teaching and Learning Music

Chapter Six                 World Travels and Music

Chapter Seven           Classical Guitar Fever

Chapter Eight             Instruments and Players Potpourri

Chapter Nine             Musical Elegies

Chapter Ten               Music and the Humanities

Epilogue                      The Elizabeth Waltz Reprised



TABLE OF CONTENTS: The Teaching Life—Stories of Teaching and Learning

Chapter 1    Learning with High School Students

Baptism by Fire / Classroom Novice / Meetings with the Principal

Back in the Classroom / What is a Teacher? Why Teach?


Chapter 2    Joining Educational Communities

Queens College Apprenticeship / Success and Failures / Masterful Mentors

Joining the Teaching Community / Major Mistakes / Becoming a Professional

Three Extraordinary Colleagues / Visiting Scholars / Teaching Writing about

Music / Teaching and Feelings


Chapter 3    Settling into the Teaching Life

Teaching at Pace University / Teaching American Literature / Teaching

Exploratory Writing / Teaching Adults / Teaching Music Appreciation

Teaching for IBM / Teaching Through Field Trips / Teaching with Emotion


Chapter 4    Teaching in Cambridge and Taiwan

A Different Writing Pedagogy / Some Harvard Teachers / Some Harvard

Students / Fear of Failure / Minorities and Majorities / Students in Charge

Teaching Poetry in Taiwan


Chapter 5    Teaching Across Programs

Seizing Opportunities / Teaching Critical Thinking / Teaching Cultural Foundations Teaching Essay Writing / Teaching in the NYU Business School / Teaching Online Teaching Teachers


Chapter 6    Varied Teaching Venues

Adjunct Teaching / Memorable Adjunct Teaching Experiences / Suburban

School Scenarios / Teaching in Churches and Libraries / AP Institutes and

Conferences Abroad


Chapter 7    Ways of Teaching

Interdisciplinary Teaching / Teaching Imaginative Thinking

Imagination, Creativity, Innovation / Metaphors of Teaching

Mentoring and More


Chapter 8    Teaching Literature

The Pleasures of Fiction / From Story to Poem / A Teaching Framework

Drama and Imaginative Thinking / Drama as Theater / The Pleasure of Essays

What Good is Literature?


Chapter 9    Teaching and Textbooks

Textbook Conflicts / The Problem of Time / A Swerve to High School

Textbooks / Obstacles and Opportunities / Modern American Poets: Their

Voices and Visions / The Scribner Handbook for Writers / Prentice-Hall

Humanities Texts / Powers of Two / Great Essays


Chapter 10  An Approach to Teaching

A Teaching Credo / Teaching as a Vocation / Influential Teachers

Creating a Teaching Persona / Building Community / The Dynamics

of Teaching and Learning / Master Teachers


Epilogue / Appendix

References and Suggested Readings

Acknowledgements and Recognitions


TABLE OF CONTENTS: Living with Music


Chapter One              Youth and Music

Strings that Bind / Learning Mandolin and Guitar / Instrument Menagerie / Two Henrys / Boy Choirs / 45s in the 60s / Folk Music and Musicians


Chapter Two              College and Grad School Music

Music at Maryknoll / Mandolin Master / Dorm Music Seduction / Guitar Lessons and Another Woman / Beethoven Engagement Gifts / Painting with Music


Chapter Three           Music in Young Adulthood

Do You Sing to Your Child? / Music Guessing Games / Music School and Music Camp / Learning Piano / Nutcrackers / Deaf Nutcracker / On the Road, Up in the Air / New York Youth Symphony / Buying Music and Recordings / Speakers and Music Systems / Violin Teachers / Finding the Right Violin / Alternative Violins Extraordinary Old Italian Violins/ Music from Balconies / Graduation Recitals Outdoor Music / Wedding Music / No Day Without Music


Chapter Four            Favorite Popular Performers

Johnny Cash / Keith Richards / The Everly Brothers / The Beatles / Leonard Cohen / Bob Dylan / Woodstock Musicians / Ballad Singers / Music of the Birds (and the Byrds) / P.D.Q. Bach / Schubert Symphonies, Sonatinas, Songs, Transcriptions


Chapter Five              Teaching and Learning Music

Fathers and Daughters / Protest Singers / Piccolo Partito Italiano / Guitar Zero  First Classical Guitar Lessons / Music Books / Record Jackets and Jewel Boxes  WQXR, Sirius XM, and Music Education / Schubertiade  Keira’s Music School  Master Teachers, Master Classes / Meeting Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie Hall  Amazing Grace in San Antonio / Doing Music at Queens College / Music Appreciation at Pace University/ Interdisciplinary Teaching—Music Plus / Music Variety at New York University / Special Taipei Teachers and Students / Scarsdale Musicians, Music, and More / Lincoln Center Institute, Lincoln Center Education  Improvised Music Teaching


Chapter Six                World Travels and Music

Mandolin in Heidelberg / Mandolino Alitalia / Egyptian Dinners with Mandolin  Rue de Rome, Paris Ad Hoc Concert / Performing Dvorák in Prague / Naming International Tunes—A Competition / Playing from the Heart in Exhibition Halls Playing in Italian Restaurants for Love and More / Making Music in Paris Hotel Lobbies / Sorrento Amateur Duo, Professional Trio / Madrid Guitarist on the Wall Shanghai Serenade / Accordionists in Munich and Rome / London Music Mélange / Music in Paris Churches / Budapest River Music, Land Music / Special Canadian Musical Moments / International Opera Occasions / Pipa Player Performances / The Other Carnegie Hall / Music Diversity Gala—An International Extravaganza / Visiting Music Stores / Captain Corelli’s Mandolin


Chapter Seven           Classical Guitar Fever

Grand Central Music / The Classical Guitar Store / Savage Classical Guitars Rudy’s Music Store / Guitar Acquisition Syndrome / Trading Guitars / Daryl Perry Guitars / Guitar Calamities / Guitars at Auction / Christopher Parkening’s Guitar / Guitar Controversies / Met Museum—Guitar Heroes / Missed Opportunities / Guitarists and the Boston T / Segovia in New York / Jorge Caballero / Bradley Colten / Roland Dyens / Christopher Parkening Once More  Bach on the Guitar / Handel on the Guitar / Guitarists Galore / Essential Guitar Composers


Chapter Eight            Instruments and Players Potpourri

Pianos and People / Pianists of Perfection / Pianos in Movies / Pianos and Poems Violin Virtuosos / Cellists of Renown / Unexpected Ukulele Players / Triumphant Trumpeters  / Music Under New York / San Francisco Mandolin Trio / Mandolin Disease and Mishap / Inspiring Instrumental Duos


Chapter Nine             Musical Elegies 

Birthday Music I—Women, Wine, and Song / Birthday Music II—Reader, She Married Him / Mandolin Doctor / Playing for the Infirm / Kasper Oktoberfest  Harmonica Rehab / Holiday Music / Music Magic at the Metropolitan Museum  Magnhild Larsen Singing in Norwegian / Little Triptych—Three Special Women  A Christening and a 90th Birthday / Music and Meals / French Canals, Dublin Tunes, Russian Food & Music / Final Music


Chapter Ten               Music and the Humanities

Music and Meaning: Philosophy Light / Music and Thinking: Competing Perspectives / Music and Metaphor: Thinking Analogically / Writing about Music: Sound & Sense / Music in Literature: Words & Music, Words as Music

Music and Poetry: Beautiful Connections / Music in Shakespeare: Hamlet Soliloquy / Music in Paintings: Unheard Melodies / Music in Films: A Marriage of Necessity / Music and Speech: Comparative Structures / Music and Dance: Embodied Rhythms / Transcendental Music: Charles Ives’s Heroes / Walt Whitman and Music: The Joy of Song / Streaming Music: Gains and Losses  Music Quotations to Contemplate and Savor / Living with Music


Epilogue: The Elizabeth Waltz Reprised


Current Writing Projects

My current writing projects are linked below: (1) a book on reading literature (Improvisations); (2) two books on getting smarter (fast and across the board); (3) a pair of memoirs about my teaching life (50 years+) and my life with music (even more years!). Also included is information about my biggest work-in-progress: an encyclopedic summa pedagogica, with the current title: Provocative Pairs—Learning with the World’s Masters (152 chapters—and counting—each chapter a dozen double-spaced pages, with most chapters devoted to a pair of great masters past and present).

For each of these works in the making, I have provided a table of contents and preface. A couple of them also include a sample chapter. An additional book I have in the works is Poems to Live By, for which I’ve included about a third of what I’ve written so far—also with a brief TOC and prefatory note.

Provocative Pairs—Learning with the Masters

Volume I:
Major Influencers Past and Present

Provocative Pairs—Learning with the Masters

Volume II:
Humanities, Sciences, and More

Simply Smart One

How to Get Smarter Fast

Simply Smart Two

How to Get Smart About Humanities

Simply Smart Three

How to Get Smart About Science and Math

Reading Literature: Improvisations and Explorations

The Teaching Life: Why Teaching Matters

Living with Music: A Glorious Journey

Poems to Live By

Essays: Reflections and Ruminations

Robert DiYanni

Robert DiYanni

Author ⪢ | Professor ⪢ | Consultant ⪢

Robert DiYanni is a professor of humanities at New York University, having served as an  instructional consultant at the NYU Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Center for Faculty Advancement. For these centers he conducted workshops and seminars on all aspects of pedagogy, consulted with faculty about teaching concerns, visited and observed classes, and provided a wide range of pedagogical consultative services. Professor DiYanni serves on the faculties of the School of Professional Studies and the Stern School of Business at NYU. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from Rutgers University, attended a Master of Arts in Teaching program at Johns Hopkins University, and received a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the City University of New York Graduate Center.  

In addition to his work at NYU, Dr. DiYanni has taught at City University of New York, at Pace University, and as a Visiting Professor at Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and at Harvard University. As a high school teacher for four years and a college professor for more than four decades, Professor DiYanni has taught students from eighth grade through doctoral candidates. Most of his teaching, however, has been with college and university undergraduates. His numerous workshops, offered in more than twenty countries, have been attended by secondary school teachers and administrators, as well as by undergraduate college and university faculty and administrators.

Dr. DiYanni has written and edited numerous textbooks, among them, Literature: An Introduction; The Scribner Handbook for Writers (with Pat C. Hoy II); Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities, (with Janetta Rebold Benton), the basis for a series of lectures given at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Modern American Poets: Their Voices and Visions, which served as a companion text for the PBS television series Voices and Vision, which aired in the late 1980s.

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