I love the following Stoltzman story about Opperman. It reminds me of a Zen teacher and the sound of two hands clapping.
"Perhaps his best-known pupil is the international soloist Richard Stoltzman, who had just completed a master’s degree at Yale in 1967 when he sought out Mr. Opperman for instruction on reeds — the two-and-a-half-inch-long pieces of cane that are the obsession of most players, a passionate fraternity of tinkerers.
“I came to him with a sense of entitlement, to take my place in the music establishment,” Mr. Stoltzman said with a laugh in an interview. “He had me play a little. Then he said, ‘Yeah, well, you don’t really know where the holes are on the clarinet yet.’ It was then that I realized I would be a lifelong student.”
Mr. Opperman was single-minded about extracting the most from those he taught. To that end, Mr. Stoltzman said, he composed wry epigrams and taped them to the walls of his studio, which gradually expanded to fill much of his apartment on West 67th Street in Manhattan. Among them were, “Everyone discovers their own way of destroying themselves, and some people choose the clarinet.”