Entitled to my love and service

“A name pronounced is a recognition of the individual to whom it belongs. He who can pronounce my name aright, he can call me, and is entitled to my love and service.” 

~Henry David Thoreau

It’s one of those really simple and obvious things. We like it when people call us by name. It makes us feel special – like they actually know who we are. I’m even thrilled when I see my name in comment boxes on blogs! And because it’s been misspelled more ways than you can imagine and sometimes mispronounced (rhymes with Madonna – the “o” is not a long vowel) I’m happy when the effort is made to get it right.

This hit me hard last year. A 14-year-old student who has a foreign name – not hard to pronounce but a name that felt heavy on my tongue – asked after being with me for about 8 months if I knew what her name was. Ouch. Yes. I knew. It hadn’t occurred to me that she might have noticed that I never, ever voiced her name, though I did the students on either side of her. I probably didn’t recover from that very gracefully.

I’m so glad she called me on it. One more little thing that goes a long way in the teacher-student relationship.


Image: LaDona Ahenda, 2012

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About LaDona's Music Studio

Musician, pianist, teacher, blogger.
This entry was posted in Business of Teaching, Inspirational and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Entitled to my love and service

  1. Joe Head says:

    A great quote from a great author, one that I’ve not read/heard before but will begin to pass along. I have for many, many years felt that a person deserves to have their name pronounced correctly. Whenever I meet a patient [with an unusual or unfamiliar name] for the first time, I try to always ask, “How do YOU pronounce your [first or last] name?” As an aside, a few years ago my wife,daughter and I visited the Boston area for a medical conference. We took some time to visit Lexington and Concord, and went out to Walden Pond to see the location of Thoreau’s former cabin. Ever the geologist, while walking the shoreline of Walden Pond, I spotted an interesting rock [for Mark-it was igneous, possibly a gabbro] that was well rounded and probably not local [for Mark-most likely a glacial erratic]. It now sits on one of my book shelves as a reminder of Walden Pond and Henry David Thoreau.

    • LaDona's Music Studio says:

      I haven’t actually read Thoreau – just looked for the quote online! But he’s one of those authors that is always nagging at me – at least I should give it a try some time. I feel like I’ve missed out on something.

      • Joe Head says:

        Like many adventurous, young college bond males, I read Thoreau’s “Walden Pond” with much interest. But what I really ended up remembering was his poetry. As a college freshman I set his poem, “I Knew A Man By Sight” to music so that I could sing it as a ballad [after all, that was back in the days of Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, and the likes!]

  2. David McKay says:

    And sometimes, it isn’t that the name is hard to say, merely foreign-sounding.
    Sometimes I avoid names because I have a fear of calling people by their brother’s name. Again.

    • LaDona's Music Studio says:

      Yes, there is that issue! I’m hyper-aware of that one now – my daughters look remarkably alike and are always mistaken for each other. They are so appreciative of adults who can tell them apart.

  3. fame1444 says:

    Great post! Names are so important. Thanks for clarifying the pronunciation of your name. In my mind I’ve always pronounced it to rhyme with Madonna, but I was always suspicious that it might be a long o. Now I know for sure!

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