Posts Tagged ‘piano lessons’

What is it about Facebook that draws me in?  I’ll go on to just catch up with my long distance friends, and find myself an hour (or more!) later, wondering where the time went….. it’s like a black hole in a Time Management Suspense Movie…. how does the time disappear?

I teach piano and voice — have done so for the past thirty years or so.  Never meant to. Never even thought I was qualified to do so. Somehow, it just showed up in my resume.  Things got financially challenging during the early years of pastoring, and Bill suggested I try it.  Now, here I am years later, still doing it.  Am I addicted, or just stubborn?  I can’t tell.  We have gone through seasons with it — from 5 students to 60 students — from 1 recital a year, to competitions, 2 recitals and senior projects — Now I have 9.  I love them all; perhaps it’s the relationships…

It’s a sense of teaching people how to speak a new language.  Admittedly, I enjoy the sour notes students play; I get to help them fix their conjugation; accent; prononciation. It’s a great feeling when a student learns to emode through their fingers ; letting feeling flow into the music, giving it expression…

I was reminded this morning of an experience I had during a student’s lesson years ago.  This former student is now a friend;  now married (to another former student).  He is a young minister, band leader and musicman.  Of late, we have been posting back and forth on facebook. I am watching his life, listening to his comments, and find myself  anticipating how the Holy Spirit will be using him in the next few years to reach his generation.

While on this reminiscence pathway, I found myself smiling.  He will get there in spite of his piano/voice instructor’s inabilities. The specific picture that came to mind was clear. Chad was in a level of learning where he was deciphering the lydian, dorian and jazz scales. His assignment was to play each of the scales in each key.  There are twelve keys. The amazing boy had to play each scale  four octaves, and also play the two minor scales.  The process took about 15 minutes and served as a solid warmup for the harder pieces he was working on at the time.  His scales always had a concrete metronome rhythm; and as such could lull a person into “blank slate” mode.  As the metronome ticked on, I fell asleep. Sound. 

While I won’t blame the student, I will say it wasn’t really my fault (denial, you say?).  Bill and I had had a late night at the church we pastor the night before . So I dozed — sorry. But the boy was focused, intent on his assignment.  I was startled awake from my “power nap” by a loud silence. Opening my eyes, I saw him gazing at me.  I still have no idea how long it had been since the final note had been played.  

“Mrs. Graafsma?” he inquired, always polite (which I credit to his parents, by the way). “Are you okay?” 

Flustered, I looked back at him.  “Were you happy with how they sounded?” I asked.

He didn’t say anything at first.  He just got that funny sideways grin, and his eyes twinkled. At that moment, I realized he knew.  I was busted. “The scales?” he asked.  For a moment, I thought he might be playing with me — had he played a piece as well?  I checked his music on the music stand.  No, it wasn’t open yet.   “Yeah,” he continued, “they were okay.”

I took a breath.  “Good.”  I replied. “I thought so too.”  We went on with the lesson.

Let me digress a little at this point. In the last 30 years, I have discovered there are three types of piano students.  Sadly;  the primary type is peppered in-between the latter two types. These are students who have no real inclination to learn, or discover, but have been convinced, bribed, or threatened by their parents to “try” music and see if they like it.  It takes time and a developing of trust to help these students to admit it is okay to speak up and ask to do something else, please.

The latter two types are divided equally.  First, there are those who have a degree of talent; who love music, want to learn, and can’t wait to discover something new, but realize they will have to work hard to get to the finish line. These are the tortoises. Then there are those who hold a degree of giftedness, who love music, want to learn, can’t wait to discover something new, but are handicapped by the fact that everything they do has come easily.  These are the hares. 

Chad, songwriter and philosopher that he has become — was a hare — who learned to become a tortoise.  He is an example of a gifted boy who confronted his desire to “sprint ahead,” and took the time to address the “next step” in a disciplined manner. He was willing to work hard — deciphering the nitty gritty, and taking away what was useful. Those abilities will take him far, because that is a life lesson we all need to apply in every area of our lives.

Because of that developed character, I am convinced he will make a difference; no matter where God places him.  Thanks for listening, Chad — and for being willing to let the Holy Spirit use you.  Watching how you learned, helped me to make discoveries about teaching. 

See you on Facebook.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com


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