I've been thinking about previous teachers recently. I was practicing some excerpts when I turned to a xerox of Till Eulenspiegel and saw the signature of Alan Balter at the top.
I took a few lessons with Alan during the 80's while I still lived in Washington, DC. Though I had graduated from Northwestern U in 1982, having studied with Marcellus and Brody there, Balter taught me some things I never got from any other teacher.
When I played a note perfect Mendelssohn Scherzo for him, he commented how well I had played it, and then said it was missing one key element of the music, its dance like quality.
He encouraged me to learn to "spin the air" as I played, which freed up my air for more expressive subtlety, and also for a touch of vibrato when I desired it.
He helped me focus on the quality of motion of my right hand index finger, the weakest link in my finger technique.
I still apply these ideas and others to my playing and teaching to this day. I will always be thankful for what he taught me.
Unfortunately, I cannot thank him personally. Alan Balter passed away in 1998 from complications caused by some disease he had battled for over a decade.
He played 8 seasons as principal clarinet of the Atlanta Symphony and then went on to conduct after winning the MIN-ON International Concours for Conductors in 1976.