Ben DeLoache: A real character and a superb teacher who gave me as a singer the greatest gift of all

A scholarship student at the Yale School of Music, as a wide-eyed and excited pupil of Ben DeLoache, I earned an MMus in Voice in 1970 at the turbulent time of the Black Panther trials. Ben permitted me to take two lessons per week because I was so eager to learn how to sing well. I was a newlywed living in Stamford, taking the train to and from Yale every weekday, practicing my breathing during the trips.

Ben was larger than life - a big, bold, warm, funny baritone who had studied with the great Russian bass, Chaliapin. I will never forget the day Ben said "You've got it!" I was practically dancing with delight!

Many years later, while taking our son to a piano lesson with Donald Currier, I ran into Ben in New Haven, gave him a big hug and a kiss, told him my name, and asked if he remembered me. He said "No, but kiss me again!" That was Ben! Every time I think of him, I can't help but laugh and shake my head. He gave me as a singer the greatest gift I ever received: The joy of singing well! 

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