Tuesday, September 26, 2006


My younger piano students (mostly girls, between the ages of 5 and 10) all receive a sticker at the end of each lesson. I keep a large assortment, and they use them to decorate their lesson books. I must say, this is not entirely selfless on my part -- I get at least as much amusement out of it as they do.

My first lesson on Mondays is with R, a 5-year old blond princess with one of those high, squeaky voices that only a 5-year old blond princess can have. Her parents are from South Africa, and though she has lived here most of her life, she still has a very strong (and adorable) South-African accent, probably due to the fact that she goes to a French-speaking school and doesn't watch much tv, so the only English she really hears on a regular basis is from her parents, who also have accents. In any case, she chooses her stickers in pairs, always with the following week in mind, and the pattern on the cover of her book is completely symmetrical in a way I didn't even know kindergartners were capable of. Two pink fairies in the top corners, two bumblebees in the bottom corners. A tropical fish dead center, and two sparkly butterflies evenly spaced on either side of him. She's very serious about choosing. For example, with the sparkly butterflies (one of which she chose yesterday), she carefully examined each one on the sheet to find one who's color and size closely matched the one she already had, then carefully placed it at a slight angle on the book to create a perfect mirror image.

Next I have E and T, two friends who both have their lessons at E's house every week. E is a year older and usually goes first. She is a very grown-up 3rd grader now, and has been taking lessons quite a bit longer than T, who just started 2nd grade. I often have to subtly and gently remind E that T doesn't need her extremely helpful hints and advice during her lesson. Both of the girls have sticker collections, so they take their stickers and save them to use in art projects or other books later on instead of putting them on their piano books. Not surprisingly, T watches carefully to see what sticker E has chosen and then often chooses the same kind. :)

I buy most of my stickers from the same drugstore, and lots of them are a brand called "Stickeroni," where each sheet has a "bonus" sticker on the bottom left hand corner of a piece of macaroni with arms and legs that somehow matches the theme of the stickers (on the butterfly stickers, the macaroni has a little butterfly net, and on the tropical fish, the macaroni has a scuba mask). A, who comes on Wednesdays, has almost exclusively these macaroni stickers on her book, and is always slightly disappointed if I'm out of them. If macaroni is not an option, she tends to choose small stickers (sea shells or little hearts or stars), which will decorate her book without detracting from her little macaroni family, which takes center stage.

K, my only boy right now, likes to put his stickers on the inside cover of his book, and goes in phases. First, he liked fish, then frogs, and lately he's very in to Sponge Bob Squarepants. Every week, he counts the stickers to see how many lessons he has had in this book, then counts the number of songs left to try to determine how many stickers he will have before he moves on to the next level.

O and S are second-graders and friends who come back to back on Thursdays. They like to spread out all the sheets on the piano bench, so as not to miss any great stickers that might be hiding. Then, they look at their books to see if there are any they don't have yet. Then, they pick the "cutest one." O's little sister, who is 4 and doesn't take piano (yet), often stands quietly nearby and watches, hoping to get a sticker, too. (she usually does -- I'm a softie, what can I say?)

T is the oldest of the bunch (10, and just starting 5th grade), and has been my student since she was 4, when I had just finished graduate school. Needless to say, I have a tender spot in my heart for her, having watched her grow up and progress over the years. She is getting more advanced now, and is no longer using method books, but instead has several books of piano literature and theory, which are decorated with well thought-out scenes. A frog is playing the piano while Spongebob sits on it, singing. A school of fish is swimming through the under-water picture on the front of her theory book, and a family of monkeys is tumbling around through the title of her piano book. Several butterflies are floating in a group, and two fairies are having a conversation over a cup of tea.

Oh, yeah, and occasionally we play the piano, too. :)


Anonymous said...

What an entertaining post!!!

Ariadne said...

I wanna be (5 again and be) your student!