What to get for a classical-music and science-loving mentor as a present?
November 21, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

What to get as a going-away present for my classical-music-and-science-loving mentor when I make a great deal less money than them and don't have as much knowledge as them in their interests?

While I have never had a very familiar relationship with my mentor, they have been a key figure in my education and career development. I literally would be living a completely different life right now if not for them. I'm graduating and would like to get them a nice, meaningful token of appreciation.

They are an academic and their major interests are classical music and biochemistry. They play the violin and perform in musical groups. It would be nice to get them something in the classical music world, but I'm at a loss. I think anything I could afford to get them they would already have, and probably better quality (e.g. orchestra tickets). I'm wary of getting CDs as they know so much more than me I'm afraid the gesture would be amateurish.

A cool science-related desk object or something might be nice, but a lot of the stuff I see is too gimmicky or jokey for their tastes (high brow).

Does anyone have suggestions? Ideally I would spend less than $100, but could be convinced to spend more if the thing was REALLY cool.
posted by schroedinger to Shopping (10 answers total)
You don't actually NEED to get something for them related to their academic pursuits. If they have high brow taste, a nice bottle of wine would probably be appreciated.
posted by empath at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2012

what about an ecosphere, and a very nice note saying how much you appreciate the effect they've had on your life and career? even if you don't get them the ecosphere (or any gift for that matter), the note is still a great idea.
posted by koroshiya at 2:23 PM on November 21, 2012

For $100, you could get an undergrad composer in the music dept. to write them a short violin solo. A commissioned piece is the most unique gift you could give!

Or how about a donation in their name to an interesting or up-and-coming local music organization? If you can tell me anything more about what kinds of music they like, I could make some other guesses about cool related things (I'm a classical musician).

Feel free to contact me privately (website's in my profile) if you don't want to share details publicly.
posted by kalapierson at 2:24 PM on November 21, 2012

A bottle of wine with these amazing musical wine glasses would be nice.

Books and scores are cool gifts, but it's hard because you don't know what they have. If that interests you, I can probably recommend some obscure-ish academic books on music or interesting scores to violin pieces he might be unlikely to already own. You can memail me about that.

I like the idea of a commissioned piece. $100 won't get you much though, and unless you know the composer and their work well, quality could be an issue.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:27 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

:) $100 for a short solo piece would be fine for a university undergrad; they're mostly not getting paid commissions at all. If I were the OP, I'd ask a composition professor to recommend a reliable comp student.
posted by kalapierson at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2012

I'm not confident in my wine-selection abilities either! I was just thinking the classical or science route because those are the two dominating passions of his life.

The composition piece sounds like a really cool idea if it was executed properly (and sadly I don't have the talent to know). I live in Philadelphia but I could also email other music schools, right? He plays the clarinet best but is learning the violin, so I thought the violin might be best.
posted by schroedinger at 3:16 PM on November 21, 2012

A nice, meaningful token of appreciation for a mentor would be a thing you buy/build/write related to your shared knowledge of the thing he mentored you in rather than a random unshared thing you happend to learn about him. What did they mentor you in?
posted by headnsouth at 3:32 PM on November 21, 2012

Biochemistry. I wish I could buy him a NIH grant for his laboratory but sadly that's out of my powers. I've tried to think of biochem-related gifts he'd like but coming up short.
posted by schroedinger at 4:10 PM on November 21, 2012

This sounded like a fantastic book for classical music lovers, based on the NPR interview:

The First Four Notes
posted by markblasco at 8:17 PM on November 21, 2012

Get these awesome cups!
posted by oceanjesse at 12:37 AM on November 22, 2012

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