As a child studying music, I was very fortunate. I was not rich. I did not have the most expensive toys or gadgets. The internet did not exist in the 1980s. I did not compete in many sports. During my childhood, I was inspired by my piano teachers.
I studied with two piano teachers between the ages of 5 and 18. The first piano teacher took me on as a pupil when she was semi-retired. I remember the warm, comfortable music studio: the vast library of books, the beautiful grand piano, the labrador retriever named Sooner that would sleep under the piano during the lessons, a bust of Beethoven that would sit on the piano desk looking down with a reassuring grin. I remember the positive comments my piano teacher would make. She would sing during all aspects of the lesson and would encourage me to do the same. My first piano teacher always had positive comments and gentle constructive criticism. She nurtured the love of learning that made me decide to stay at the piano bench instead of playing soccer in the backyard. Piano was always the first choice of any activity I engaged in, soccer would wait until I played the piano.
My first piano teacher retired when I was an early-intermediate musician. At the age of 10, I was transferred to a great piano teacher. She took me on as a student on a provisional basis for 6 months. If I did not show promise within 6 months, that would be the end of my lessons. Within two weeks, my mother would recount later, I was practicing out of a pure sense of determination to “live” beyond the 6 month trial period.
This second piano teacher took the natural love of learning that had sprouted within me to new heights. She was a strong-willed musician, a seasoned teacher, an experienced examiner and clinician. During lessons or recitals, when her piano students played, she would look down at the floor and would listen intently to every note that came out of our fingers. At the end of every performance, she would thank her pupil for their playing. She would always begin her comments in a positive way, her genuine love of teaching always shone through.
Many years later, I am fortunate to continue in their footsteps as a music teacher. Each week, I enjoy helping students to see their own inner potential. When a student is having challenges in their practicing or with the material that they are learning, they look to me for guidance. As a teacher, I see the problem that needs to be solved. As a musician, I see the music that needs to be learned and the process that needs to be relayed to the student. Most importantly, as a human being, I see my student through the eyes of myself as a 10 year old piano student. I see them looking to me for guidance in the same way that I looked to my piano teacher for guidance. I respond to the needs of my students in the same way that my piano teachers responded to me: with a love for music, a love for solving problems, and with the positive energy that inspires higher learning.
As a music instructor, it is my duty to encourage, inspire, to nurture an interest in higher learning. These elements were passed down to me as a piano student. It is a pleasure to do the same for the students in my music studio.