July 10, 2014

Del and Julienne Slaughter

I was priviliged to be one of the countless violin students of Julienne Slaughter, who passed away in 1998 of Lou Gherig's disease while I was on my mission in Australia. Before I departed, I was able to visit with her several times: Once, at a celebration concert honoring her contributions to music in the Magic Valley; another time when I visited her and Del at their home, and witnessed Del's devoted care; and finally, when she was wheeled into the chapel for my mission farewell. Of course, I have countless memories of Julienne before she got sick: of the lessons she gave in her basement studio, monthly group lessons at CSI, the end-of-year Suzuki String Spring Thing concert, teaching summer music camps, and of her performing in various local music groups. I have fewer memories of Del, but he was always present--I could often hear him teaching flute lessons upstairs while Julienne taught violin downstairs. Once, when my mother needed to be in two places at once, the Slaughters babysat me, and fed me the most delicious clam chowder I had ever had.

The impact that the Slaughters had on me cannot be overstated. After Julienne died, my dad described how he and my mom came to Twin Falls as young parents with two children, and soon met the Slaughters through church. Mom, who had studied the violin in college, hadn't played much since becoming a mother. When Julienne learned of Mom's hidden talents, she encouraged her to become a Suzuki violin teacher. Mom joined the symphony (I remember her practicing Peter's theme from Peter and the Wolf), and began to take violin students. I remember when she made the announcement that she was going to teach violin lessons, and that I was going to be her first student! (I asked her if that meant I could quit piano. Fortunately, she said no.) Though mom eventually turned me over to Julienne for lessons, she never stopped being my teacher, and she has now left her own legacy as one of Twin Falls' great violin teachers.

These memories have come flooding back because Del passed away last week (here is his obituary)and I have been reading comments written by former students who live all over the United States--lives made better by these two music teachers from Twin Falls, Idaho. One student wrote, "I remember the words [Del] repeated often, that music should not be considered "fun," but rather a joy in our lives."

Thank you for giving me so much joy, Mr. and Mrs. Slaughter!

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