Taking the time

When I teach a young pupil it’s always a great experience. Their energy, their enthusiasm is contagious. They don’t have any barriers, so, when they’re happy, they show it. On most lessons, they come with a big smile and eager to transform noise into music. But, every now an then, they arrive with drooping shoulders and a sad face. I always ask if they didn’t want to come to the lesson, if that’s what’s causing their sullen mood. I let them answer, instead of looking at the parents. They tell me that their day at school was tough, or that something happened in their family, or that they’ve been coughing for 3 days now, or that they didn’t sleep well. I ask them if they can still do the lesson. With a poor face, they nod. And so, I proceed. But in a special way, which is the purpose of this particular blog.

Human beings are not machines. And kids, especially are subject to all sorts of moods. I have to take that into account when I do my lesson. I can’t just crack open the book and plow right through the exercises. No! I have to be sensitive to the player in front of me, no matter the age. So, I take it easy. I do a few easy things. I gently show an old exercise we used to master 3 months ago. We try it with a new little twist, I put on a new song for it maybe. The goal is not to make the child feel more miserable than she already is. The goal is to keep her motivated. That’s the job I take very seriously. I’m here to lit up a fire and keep it going, not fill up a vase.

So,to all my critics that could say that I make them waste their time, I answer this: I strongly disagree! The fact that they come, even when not in the mood, means that piano or drums is not negotiable: “We said we were going to do it, we ARE doing it”. And I also know the importance of routine. Every week counts in an education, even the mediocre ones. They’ll do better next time.


And there’s one more thing: they are young, some of them are less than 6 years old. What’s the rush? What is one week when they have so many ahead of them? I sometimes contemplate the education in music for these pupils, I didn’t start playing until I was 16 years old and I did all right. So, as they prop themselves up on the piano bench or the drum throne, I relax and remember to take my time, because today, that’s all they need.