Tutunov sets a fine example

Tutunov sets a fine example

Southern Oregon University professor and artist-in-residence Dr. Alexander Tutunov is a world-class pianist. Increasingly, my impression is clear: He's also a world-class person.

On Sunday, Sept. 16, I heard Dr. Tutunov perform at Grace Lutheran Church, which encourages young musicians. One of Dr. Tutunov's students was the featured artist/musician, and he played a Debussy suite with her for four hands. Before he started the piece with his student, he thanked the congregation with the richest, most heart-felt words for the "amazing love and care" that they had shown so many of his students and other musicians from SOU. I and the full house audience were won over. Then, he played brilliantly.

Afterwards, Dr. Tutunov stood back from his student during the rousing applause and clapped for her. He positively glowed with pride in his young student.

This experience (including a post-performance communication) strikingly contrasts with another recent encounter with a person who is supposed to be a spiritual leader by office. In that cold, lifeless, disconnected experience, I kept hearing the words of Emerson — what you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I can't hear what you're saying (my paraphrase).

Listening to "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell this morning, I was struck by the remarkable and cogent research on which physicians get sued for malpractice. It's stark: Those who spend 3.3 minutes more time with their patients, actively listen to them, and show them respect never (but never) get sued, even if they have made more objective mistakes. When people feel valued and respected, they are in a relationship and do not use legal means for redress.

It reminds me of Maya Angelou's wonderful insight: People will likely forget a great deal of what you did and what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel (again, my paraphrase).

Life lesson writ large! Thank you, Dr. Tutunov, Maya Angelou, and Emerson for teaching us this essential truth.

Daniel Murphy