I recently had an article published in Colorado Kids Magazine. It is on the last page of the January issue. Here it is!!
The Piano Lesson The call to inspire young minds
I can still remember those long walks... books under my arms, hands sweating, fingers drumming in place trying to make up for the practice that I had failed to complete the previous week. Hoping that today he would not compare me to his star pupil, Mike, my best friend. He would say, in his German way, “Vye can you not be like Mike”. Be like Mike, it was kind of my motto.
And so piano lessons took on this tone. Nervous walks, tentative playing, and endless comparing to Mike. We had both started lessons at the same time, and yet he seemed to fly through the material at twice the speed I took. And for some, this type of motivation might have been devastating, and maybe in some ways that I don't still understand, it was. And yet, my experience with music did not end dismally as one might think.
I still learned music, and became, well, I became a moderately good paino player. But something happened, which I am still now understanding, to my mind and heart through the constant exposure to music. I began to want more. And so I joined wood-wind ensembles, and high-school choirs, and then college choirs where I eventually met my husband. We played Mozart and sang Handel and I was, and will forever be, in love with music.
Looking back, I wonder what or who happened to me along the way to help me. I believe music is so resilient in it's own right, and yet I am not a naturally amazing musician – so I know I had help along the way. After some reflection, I can account this transformation to two people: my high-school music teacher, Dr. Mac, and my College Choir director, Dr. K. Both of these men were so in love with what they were teaching that it seeped out of them, and into me! That is truly the only way I know how to describe it.
What makes a person able to inspire another; able to influence? We all desire this, do we not? We want to be drawn in - to be lost in the beauty. But some of us, most of us, have no clue how to get there on our own. We need that gentle reassurance, and the deep moments of inspiration. Searching for this hidden beauty in all aspects of life takes time and committment - and mentors along the way. And then once we have found something we love we desire to give back! I have heard it said before that “we are all experts in some area”. The question is, have we found what that area is and jumped in to inspire young minds?
Some of my most rewarding moments as a piano teacher involve the transformation of duty into desire; of when a student truly "gets it". It doesn't happen all at once, but through the avenue of relationship, and a song that catches their heart. But when it happens it's like watching your baby learn to walk. That huge smile they give you because they're just so happy to please you - it's what keeps you coming back, again and again.
As I think about my own kids, and how I would love them to have all the opportunities to enjoy music as I have... I know that I can't protect them from what might sometimes be the “negative” experience. It's quite possible that they may not get the "lead role" in some play, or they might be asked to sing "more quietly" in their elementary school choir. But with exposure is life - the good and the bad - and with that the opportunity and chance to be changed forever by something, or someone, who moves them.
And so push your kids - not in too many areas, but in some; enough to have the options and opportunity to fall in love with what is right for them. Be aware of your teachers, and how their attitudes and approach is either discouraging, or inspiring - once in a while you may need to intervene! And then, be that gift to your, or possibly, someone else's kids. We can pray that there will be a few people along their journey that will inspire them the way I was. And that just might be enough.