Last Sunday was my studio’s summer recital. Ten students played and I was really proud of every single one of them especially considering that half of them are first year piano students.
Rather than talking about “my students,” I often refer to them as “my families” because I’ve learned that the family culture is often what determines how well a student progresses in piano. That is why I expect to spend significant amount of time outside of lesson times communicating with the parents (usually moms). And the success of a student represents the triangular relationship and effort of teacher-student-and parent/guardian.
In M. Scott Peck’s words in The Roadless Traveled:
In taking the time to observe and to think about their children’s needs, loving parents will frequently agonize over the decisions to be made, and will, in a very real sense, suffer along with their children. The children are not blind to this. They perceive it when their parents are willing to suffer with them, and although they may not respond with immediate gratitude, they will learn also to suffer… This is the beginning of self-disciplines… The feeling of being valuable [by observing the time and the quality of time their parents devote to them in suffering with them] is cornerstone of self-discipline… Self-discipline is self-caring.
I have seen moms who have no previous music education suffering with their children day after day through their practices. “Suffering” may not have a positive connotation but in Peck’s context, “suffering” is the legitimate way to solve life’s problems.
I also often suffer with my students. When they face a challenge whether it’s technical or life skill issues, I think long and hard about how I can help them, challenge them, encourage them and inspire them. And ultimately, although I want every one of my students to become life-long lovers of music and piano players, if that does not happen, I would want them to remember me as someone who saw them for who they are and someone who was willing to suffer with them because I cared.