From Student’s Bench to Teacher’s Chair

When I was younger and my piano teacher wanted to trade seats so that she could demonstrate a musical concept for me, I always thought that this was a big deal. I would get to sit in the “teacher’s chair” while she sat on the piano bench. Although, our roles did not change, there was a sense of honor and pride to get to sit in her spot– even if only for a couple of minutes. Having “graduated” to the teacher’s chair through varied opportunities, I have the privilege of passing on the love of music to the next generation. As I have this opportunity, I hope to also pass on a few lessons I have learned about character from my childhood teacher.

Lesson Number 1— A Smile. 

Although teaching is rewarding for me, it is not always easy. Then again, I try to remember that being a student isn’t always easy, either. I walked into several lessons as a student having not met my practice goals; I typically needed extra time to complete pieces; and I needed several explanations for single concepts. Nevertheless, my piano teacher always greeted me with a smile that carried throughout my lesson. This gave me hope for my musical journey regardless of the long road, high mountains, and deep waters. Despite the varied circumstances of the day as well as what my students may be going through, I too want to be a beacon of joy and hope for my students in something as simple as a steadfast smile.

Lesson Number 2— Patience.

A steadfast smile embodies what I believe to be the most important quality in a teacher— patience. As passionate as I am about music, I have had to work extremely hard to move forward in this area. There have been many musical errors, worries, and tears. My childhood teacher had to correct the same musical mistakes, several upon several times; abate many fears from pre-performance jitters to bigger life events; and even sit with me while I’ve cried countless tears. Even in times that I didn’t think that I could possibly go further, she gently guided me through to success. I truly would not be who I am today if it were not for her incredible amount of patience! When working with people who have special needs, patience truly is a virtue and I want to practice this well!

Lesson Number 3— Faith. 

By teaching with incredible patience, my teacher never gave up on me. She believed in my musical capabilities and in me as a person, even in times when I did not believe in my own capabilities or even in myself. She encouraged me to try new things, and to persevere through difficult times because she believed that I was capable of conquering obstacles. I think that an overriding goal of music therapy and adapted lessons is to believe in others and to help them believe in themselves— regardless of their circumstances. I want to show my clients that I see beyond presented challenges and have faith in their upcoming victories just as my teacher has looked beyond my challenges towards my upcoming achievements.  

As I roll my “teacher’s chair” up for the next piano lesson, I hope to always remember to greet with a smile, teach with patience, and inspire through faith in their capabilities.