It’s a beautiful fall morning and I’m reflecting on some things and thought I’d share it on the blog. It’s about my story as a piano teacher. Let me start off first by saying I never thought I would be doing what I’m doing even before I went to college to study music. I would have never dreamed I’d end up loving to teach others about how to play an instrument I’ve come to dearly love, the piano. The reason why it was such an “odd” occupation for me is because I never had a teacher until I went to college. My first piano lessons were at The Crown Conservatory in spring of 2010 yet I had been playing the piano for years. Still, the thought of teaching piano had never occurred to me until….
I was sitting in freshman orientation which is class every freshman has to take (silly, I know) and the topic of private music lessons came up. I was taking piano lessons and thought that it was really a bore and I knew everything already (which I certainly did not) and the music director said, “If you have a talent, gift or knowledge of anything musical and you’re not teaching someone else or preparing to teach one day, you’re basically throwing away what God gave you.” That statement hit me hard. I had never thought about it that way. I never had a desire to teach until that moment when I realized I was not learning and growing for myself, but for others. To not pass that along would be a shame.
Since I was mostly self-taught, the idea of teaching someone else scared me. I had been told you can learn just as much on your own than from someone else. But I don’t agree with that now. The reason why teachers are so important, I think, is because you will only go so far on your own. It is true there are many talented and gifted people that can play just as well as anyone who has taken lessons since they were young but there is still an element of “passing it down” and “coaching”. They say you never know your subject well enough until you can teach it. Someone cannot teach unless 1) they try it and 2) they have been taught by someone else. Not just taught to do something but taught to teach. My teachers in college taught me many things such as musicality, scales, cadences, classical music and how to interpret it, sight reading, chord substitution, improvisation. And many other important things like discipline, hard work and dedication. But the most important thing my teachers taught me was how to teach and why it is so important.
I went to college thinking I was only gaining knowledge for myself and realized that I was learning for other people too. This is why I have a heart to teach. Some very dedicated and patient people invested in me as a student. I learned from them. Sometimes I learned what not to do but mostly what to do. I am very thankful for that. An opportunity to invest in somebody’s musical education is an opportunity to invest in somebody’s life. That’s what “passing it down”means. Teach.