Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teaching Music

Teaching. I do it two days a week. Or more, depending on who's sick or forgets (it still boggles my mind that people can forget music lessons!) and has to re-schedule lessons. I love to teach!

I realized earlier that teaching is very much a part of my life, even if I do have a very tiny studio, but I've never blogged about it, unless I've totally lost my mind. :-) At the moment I have four students, and several people who are humming and hawing because "Darn, 20 minutes is so far to drive!". We'll see. In any case, it's bizarrely wonderful.

My teaching can look like this sometimes:

"Hey there buddy, how are you today?"
"Awesome, let me take your coat!"
"So, let's get that bench in a bit for you...yeah, right there. Perfect." *big grin* "So how was your day at school?"
"Really good! We got to draw helicopters!"
"Wow! Helicopters are pretty cool." :-D "So what do you want to work on first?"
"Uh...I dunno."
"Well, let's look at your book. How about 'The Parading Monkeys' [or insert some other insane name]?"
"Yeah! That one's easy!"
"Alright, let's hear it." :-)
*ding ding.....ding.....diiiiing.....ding ding ding........ding* "uh....oh yeah!" *diiiiing!*
"Great! The first bar was almost perfect!!!" *big eyes and grin*
"Yeah, but I only practiced it once, because my Nanna came over." *nods*
"Wow, that must have been fun, hey? Okay, let's look at this piece. :-) Let's get our crazy glue out and gluuuue those notes together, okay? We're going to take out aaaall the little gaps." :-D
"'kay. Can I draw the glue in?"
"Sure, how about I draw it in this time, with a green pencil?"
"So let's hear it with all that crazy glue in there, like this." *demonstrates*
*ding ding ding ding.......diiiiiiing.........

And it goes on. And that's just one kid. Each one is a completely different case, and calls for radically different approaches. Some kids are naturally weepy, some kids randomly scream throughout the lessons, just because it's 'fun'. Some kids won't say anything unless you ask them a very distinct questions, some kids talk non-stop. And of course, it changes from week to week, though you can usually see a general trend in each student. I guess in total over the last 3 years I've had 11 students. It's been insane, really. I started when I was 13, and really shouldn't have, but a friend's Mum asked me to teach her little ones piano and I naively said yes. Thinking back on some of the things I did then, I cringe. Ah well, it's a learning experience for me, too.

I love coming up with things on the spot that make things 'click' for kids. I love watching kids struggle through something, and working at it with them, and waiting a month or two, and finally seeing the penny drop. It can be the simplest thing, and all of a sudden, they just get it! It is so amazing.

I also know the moments of frustration on my part, where I see that the kid isn't getting it, and I want to help, but can't come up with the right thing. The moments where they are frustrated, and no matter how much you smile and encourage, they still end up with tears in their eyes. The moments when you glance at the clock and there are ten whole minutes left, and you honestly can't think of anything else to do. Or when your student reminds you of some promise you made to have x piece of music for them this week, and you realized you've forgotten. It's harsh. But the beauties outweigh the negatives, and for every trial, the positives come back threefold. With most kids, anyway.

The thing is, I love finding the perfect piece for a kid, searching through lists of flute books for just the right book for a particular student. I love chatting with the parents, and seeing them excited about their child's accomplishments. I love inspiring kids, seeing them start lessons frustrated, and a few months later, seeing them actually excited about music. It's a glorious feeling. Or when they tell you in the middle of a lesson that they've decided to learn a second instrument as well, or that they told off their choir 'friends' who were teasing them about playing piano. The joy of music is infectious, and it's amazing to see.




Mariah said...

Aw, that's wonderful! I think someday I may want to try teaching. I know I could learn a lot from it, but I'm not sure how much my students would learn. :D

beautifulgraceblog said...

I am very thankful for my teacher, who I have had since fourth grade. She was very patient with me, and it took me a few years to grow up enough to deal with frustration. I'm almost sad that I will have to move on soon.


Idzie said...

That's lovely! A good teacher, and someone who actually cares about the individual student as you do, can make such a difference.

By the way, I love the photo at the top of this post. What a beautiful dress!

Anna Naomi said...

It's wonderful that you're able to teach! You're right - it is a challenging yet very rewarding experience. I miss my dance students... There were days when it was hard to know what to do, but overall it was such a blessing. One day, hopefully this summer at least, I'll be able to do it again.

FaerieMama said...

Hi Sheila! Thanks for your kind words on my blog :)You're so sweet!

I wish I lived close by so I could take lessons from you! You sound like my kind of teacher! I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog

Be well!
FaerieMama (aka Keri)