Leaving People Better Than You Found Them
It’s easy to teach when everything is going well, when families support each other, when children are perfectly behaved, when students are healthy. It’s a lot tougher when parents are stressed and take it out on unsuspecting teachers, when students have attitude, when transfer students come with a multitude of problems and hang-ups, when illness or disability are present, when the family is unstable financially.
I know some teachers who take only those students who are ready to receive what the teacher has to give. They have studios of really fine performers and many awards and accolades. It is, however, possible they miss out on a lot. I don’t know where I would be today if I had not found the right teachers at the right time or if those teachers had decided I was too broken to fix.
Actually, during my audition for college one of the professors was very vocally against me being accepted at all. I was saved by a teacher who saw something and took a chance. I learned a lot about music and life from him. And, on my final jury sheet the first professor who had been snarky to me for the last 4 years apologized and commended me for having worked hard and developed my talents.
I am thankful for what all the non-perfect people (students, colleagues, and teachers) who have taught me about how to live, how to teach, and what is really important in life and music. I have built my professional life on helping anyone develop their musical talents no matter where they come from or what their goals are. I am proud of my students. I have had plenty of students pursue music and teaching. They tell me that because I believed in them, they can believe in others.
Many of my students are amateur musicians with day jobs as doctors, lawyers, teachers, parents, and business people. Some have bands. Some play in their churches and communities. Once recently sang the National Anthem at a Major League baseball game. I have had adult students who were forced to give up their music for various reasons but who cannot be whole without it.
Is it tough to teach when everything is not textbook perfect? Sometimes. But, it is also very rewarding. Many thanks to all my students and former students for all I have learned and for sharing their joy in music with me.