“Your students never showed up. We waited nearly an hour”
This was the e-mail I received after a big piano event. I was so bummed out. Over booked children and unrealistic expectations of what piano entails. Piano takes a lot of preparation before one is ready to play a piece at performance level. It is all on the child, there is no team of people there to catch any slack or sitting on the bench due to lack of preparation. Therefore, a student will spend months and a dominant amount of time in lessons reviewing and preparing a piece. When the performance is missed I usually fight the urge not to call the parents ranting. Well would you look at that? I’m totally ranting and if there is one thing I know - it's never about the other person.
Shall I travel to the heart of this issue? I realized from this experience that no learning is ever lost. Therefore, if a student plays for an event we spent hours preparing or if they just move on to the next piece having learned what was required does it really matter how they arrived?
Who am I trying to please?
What am I trying to gain by putting more things on already over scheduled families?
Sure, the students beef up their practicing before a public performance but who does that benefit?
Is that for my benefit?
Is that so parents can feel their money was well spent?
Is it so the child will feel good about sharing their gift?
If I am really honest, I would think the answer is a bit of all of it. And then the question begs, but is this what I want my teaching career to be?
I taught music many years in private schools. The small school atmosphere was nice but my job never felt like it was teaching music - the nuts & bolts, and the ups and downs of creativity. I found myself preparing for one public event after another. Most of the events were to bring in parents and grandparents who were ultimately sent invitations to donate to the school. My passion with music soon became an act of public relations and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t living from the inside out. Yes, there were definite moments of joy and talent development! Seeing the children become attached to the love of music, learning how to motivate children to sing, applying my skills learned in college, and feeling the satisfaction of a job were all lessons I needed and appreciated.
I recalled saying to a colleague, “You know my favorite part about chapel is when I work one-on-one with a child so they play a little something while people walk in for the chapel service.” Her response was a solid, “Then that is what you should do.” I’ll never forget it. She gave quiet permission to what my inner voice was screaming. Despite the beautiful families I met, the opportunities I had to get to know cool people, my heart never sang so loudly as when I encouraged a student who had a few piano lessons under their belt by either playing with them or encouraging them to play a little something – no matter how silly or non-perfected it was. Before my eyes I was having fun and they were too. We sparkled. It was fun. It was on the spot creative. I wanted more of that. I wanted more of that fairy dust that sprinkles over us that most people may not see. I craved more of those life altering moments that don’t make the public events.
As I began teaching on my own I brought all of the public relation habits with me and slowly moved away from those little moments. Usually no one saw them and I doubted if people would think I could really teach if there was no “proof.” Many stresses and tears later, I realize now that teaching from the inside out is who I am. I teach from a spiritual place. Music is healing and to forget that in my work is sad.
And so – the experience where the students didn’t show for a piano event brought me back to my inner truths.
I love teaching – one-on-one.
I love seeing a student learn.
Music is healing.
I am called to teach.
Thank you to God and all the beings in my life who have supported and still support my gifts and talents. My I be that being for someone else.
And so it is. Amen.
|by Lori Portka on Etsy|