Monday, September 18, 2006

a good reminder

I feel almost caught up with the things that piled up while I was away, and fall is in full swing. I started teaching my piano students last week, though this was the first day I saw my Monday students, as I didn't get home until last Monday evening. Most of my students are young beginners, between the ages of 5 and 8, and Mondays are no exception. I like working with the young ones. I seem to have a good rapport with them, and they, for the most part, are happy to be taking lessons and come excited to learn and excited about music, which is really the most important thing to me. However, my last lesson on Mondays this year is a high school student. She took lessons with me for about 6 months a couple of years ago, and now she's back.

Two years ago, she was thirteen years old, and had just moved to Seattle from a suburb where she had been living with her mom. I don't know any details, but I got the impression that the living situation was not ideal, and she and her brother had moved to the city to live with their dad, a single parent. She was starting high school a year early, and in a much more urban environment than she was used to. When I first met her, she was painfully shy, withdrawn, totally uncomfortable in her body, and seemed to be very unhappy. She would occasionally cry in her lessons, not because she was frustrated, but (I think) because music was giving her an outlet that she wasn't getting anywhere else. She loved to play all kinds of music, especially Chopin, and also played the cello. At the end of the school year, she stopped taking lessons, a combination of financial and time reasons, I think, but really wanted to keep playing, so I made her a bunch of photocopies of things that appealed to her from my collection and sent her on her way. I've often thought about her, wondering how she was doing.

About six weeks ago, she called me and wanted to schedule lessons for the fall. Her grandmother had paid for several months of lessons for her birthday. Our first lesson was today. I arrived at her house this afternoon, and the door flew open to reveal a lovely, happy, and confident young woman who was absolutely beaming at the prospect of a piano lesson. She was articulate and well-adjusted and seemed totally comfortable with herself. She had learned several pieces on her own, and was completely excited to get feedback on them and make them better. And, she had made a (long) list of pieces that she wants to learn. I have most of them at home and will bring them next time.

Even now, hours later, I am close to tears thinking about it. Every now and then I'm reminded that the healing and transformative powers of music go so far beyond what I can imagine, and that's why I teach and perform. A good thing to be reminded of at the start of a new year.


ACB said...

This is wonderful! Congrats on making such a postive impact on her life. And for giving her such a gift!!

That's why we teach, eh?

Ariadne said...

I especially like part where you described what you do as healing & transformative. I'm no teacher, but bringing joy, passion, transformation and/or and healing to others is an important part of my personal and musical mission in life.

You are *such* an inspiration, M.! (now I have tears in my eyes) I feel honored to read your inner thoughts & character in these posts, and I learn something deeply good each and every time.

Thank you!