While I was attending the MTNA National Conference in Las Vegas in March, I shared a room with a friend who was there to help out at the Yamaha booth. One night, I was talking to her about my teaching life and told her about two six-year olds that I had been teaching for about a few weeks by then.
One of the six-year olds is one of those students who comes prepared to the lessons, has read through the entire method book and managed to memorize it. She could already play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” both hands in unison in several different keys.
On the other hand, with the other six-year old, we were still working on getting his finger numbers down and celebrating the fact that he could clearly tell his right hand from his left hand 🙂
As I was telling my friend about what a difference it is to teach these two very different six-year olds, I said to her, “But you know, it doesn’t matter because you never know who is going to make music their life companion.”
I am a music student who not only made music a life companion of mine but also who chose a career in music. And in my different areas of work I meet musicians of all kinds of backgrounds, training and levels of playing. And one thing is clear; it isn’t the most talented and most excelled students that become life-long users of music. Rather it is those who fall in love with music that stick with it.
So whether I’m teaching a student who clearly has a knack for sight-reading or rhythm or coordination, or a student who struggles with differentiating his or her left hand from right hand, my job is to humbly and joyfully be the guide who opens the door for them. Music has definitely been one of the best (if not the best!) companions I’ve had in my life. It has always been there for me. It keeps me honest. It comforts me. And it allows me to experience magic now and then.