Friday, December 7, 2012

First lesson jitters... not just for students!

I currently teach in three different locations: Home, a local music store and a church in a nearby community.  Recently I was giving a lesson at the church when a young girl walked in. I asked if I could help her and she said, "Ms. --- told me to come here." I said, "She should be here soon. I'm finishing a piano lesson right now but you can wait over there for her," and pointed to a pew. She said, "No, she told me to be here to take a piano lesson with YOU!" Uh oh. Ms. --- had forgotten to tell ME that she had gotten a new student for me (and felt terrible about it later!). Needless to say, because I wasn't at home, all I had with me were flash cards (not a complete set mind you because I had let a student borrow them), a book of manuscript paper (out of which I had just used the last sheet), a few sheets of notebook paper, advanced music and a level 2 piano book that someone had given me to add to my collection of various instructional books. This teacher who has been teaching for 20 years began to slightly panic! I asked her if she had taken lessons before, if she had an instrument to practice on, etc. and learned that we were starting from ground zero here, though she knew a little bit about the treble clef staff due to being in beginning band.

I told the young lady to have a seat and I would be with her as soon as the current lesson was over. When it was her turn, she walked up to the piano with a smile on her face, while I was trying to figure out how I could gently explain that I simply wasn't prepared for this today and that we would have to just go over a few basics and then begin "normal lessons" the following week. Then I saw it. She had such excitement and expectation in her eyes and I could tell she was so happy to finally learn how to play the piano. That is when it dawned on me: This is my one shot to give this child a glimpse of how fun making music really can be, that all of the things that I had running through my mind of how ill-prepared I was really didn't matter in this moment. So, we began with the basics of fingering, hand position, layout of the white keys, etc. and then got down to the fun stuff. She already knew basic rhythm (thank you, beginning band teacher!) so I took a piece of notebook paper, wrote out the note names for "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with quarter notes, half notes, etc. over them and she played her first song. By the end of the lesson she was playing the treble clef melody of one of the songs in the level 2 book I had with me and telling me how much fun she was having.

I'm really not sure who learned more that day - the student or the teacher, but I do know that I left with a renewed sense of purpose and a reminder of just why I so love what I do!

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