Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

10.16.2009

Confessions of a Music Teacher

Talking with a member of our symphony the other day (a trumpet player, no less), I explained that I teach music. His eyebrows went up. “Already?” He asked with surprise and wariness. Already, I answer. The conversation moved on, but my mind went elsewhere—“Should I already be a music teacher?”
There’s some law somewhere that says that music teachers are a strange breed. Being something of a nerd myself, I think I fill this requirement admirably. I can act as goofy as kids (which the kids love and I love to think the parents surreptitiously enjoy), but I can be the bad guy, too. I inevitably love kids, games, and that moment when the light bulb goes on and something I’ve been struggling to help a child with clicks. You could even say that moment is the chocolate (the euphoria-producing chocolate!) of music teachers. Another odd thing—we music teachers can spot a fellow music teacher from across the room—whether it is the tell-tale drumming of the fingers on the lap, the twitch of the mouth and grasping for a metronome when someone plays something just a little off, or the lighting up of the eyes when someone mentions music. We are so obvious.
The next thing a music teacher must have is students. Crucial. Students aren’t quite as strange as us teachers, but they are adorable. On the first lesson, the student is inevitably bashful and quaking in his shoes. I ask myself: am I that scary? I remember one boy who hardly opened his mouth during that long silent hour of his first lesson. When I asked him if he played any sports, he whispered, “No,” at which his dad laughed uproariously. “You played soccer last fall—remember?” and then he turned to me apologetically, “He’s really not this shy, you know.” Um, yes—a year later and let’s say the boy has warmed up to me. (-: That same boy is quite opinionated, and if he thinks I made a mistake he will adamantly argue with me—“No, no, that isn’t right because…” until he realizes once again—“Oh, wow, you’re right!” I love him for it, though.
Parents are usually necessary in order to have students, so I figure I need them too. Parents may not be as adorable as students, but they sure make for some interesting stories. There was the one who seriously informed me that she is the employer and I am her employee. (Somehow, that rubs us music teachers the wrong way!) Or the one who missed the last lesson of the year, didn’t call, and didn’t pay. Time passed. More time passed. She didn’t answer my phone calls, so I called on a different phone and she miraculously answered. Her ironclad excuse? How about I whisper it—she was stuck on the toilet for a long time with, um, bowel movements. Most parents, thankfully, come up with better excuses than that, and, in all seriousness, most are incredibly supportive, multi-tasking, loving, taxi-servicing people who are the crucial component to their child’s success in music.
So I have the nerdiness, the students, and the parents, but I think I have something else that makes me smile when someone asks, “Already?” My final confession is a dark one, but I’ll admit it—I love teaching. Every week—month after month, year after year, I see these kids and spend time with them. When they make it to the top of the C scale and back, I am as rewarded as if they climbed Mt. Everest. When they come to a lesson with their piece suddenly memorized (because they just “felt like it”) I shake my head in amazement. When they tentatively bring me the amazing pieces they write, I am as proud of my little Mozarts as if they just wrote a classic. Those are the reasons I teach “already”—for the unique opportunity to nurture, disciple, and encourage my students all while passing on the love of music. And when they move on, I miss them horribly. That is, until the next little towhead marches seriously into my studio, climbs up on the bench or grips his violin, and smiles up at me. It’s a quiet first lesson, but it’s wonderful.

3 comments:

  1. I don't think you are nerdy at all, Lauren! :) Actually, I recently began teaching my sister, Lydia, piano. It's been challenging, and so often I wonder if I'm teaching her the "right way". She's grasping it very well, though, and for that, I am thankful! :)
    Love to both of you girls!
    ~Raquel

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  2. You're so right, Lauren! Teaching is so much fun - and so rewarding! I love my students dearly, and can't imagine not knowing or interacting with them on a weekly basis! :)

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  3. A great article, Lauren! Your parent paragraph made me chuckle, and the last one certainly revealed your caring and devoted teacher's heart. (It made me appreciate the teachers in my life, including those who taught me music.) May God continue to use you to encourage and inspire your students! : )

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