Top of the mountain, bottom of the pit.

There is a harsh reality in the music world. It goes like this: one day you’re being adored and cheered by loving fans and the next booed and driven off the stage by rotten tomatoes. Come to think of it, that might be the fate of every job. As a matter of fact, every person on this planet has to go through the pleasure and pains of existence.

I’ll give you a for instance in teaching. Right before Covid-19 I had 21 students per week. A comfortable number that assured me a good living. I wasn’t worried one bit. Then the pandemic hit and my numbers reverse from 21 to 12. Not good. That dozen of students would not sustain me comfortably. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure it would sustain me at all.  But all of the sudden we were supposed to stay inside and survive the best we can in our aquariums. Yikes! Say, do you remember those days, the yesteryears of knowing there was a deadly disease raging right outside our windows?

For my teaching, two things happened: I shifted my lesson from in person to online, that’s one. Two: I did a total rethinking of my lessons. In piano or drums. I questioned everything I was doing before, from the pages and books I was using to the different pace of the students, their age, their social economic background and their level of interest. After many sleepless night, I devised a plan. I wasn’t sure it would work, nonetheless I started to write. A lot. I was churning out 150 to 200 pages a week. Hey, if you take away some of my lessons, it gives me a lot of free time. So, I wrote. Actually it was not that painful. Because, as I was writing, I was also trying the new material with the students, the ones that had stuck with me (and, by the way, I am very thankful they did). And it was working. I should say: “And it was working!!!”. The response was phenomenal. People were having more fun, were more engaged in the lesson, more relaxed also. They didn’t mind working on a difficult exercise because I had conceive a play along song they could eventually try it with. They could see right away how they were going to use it. Back to happy days for my business.

My numbers started to grow again. And grow they did until I couldn’t accept anyone else: my schedule was full! Right now I have maybe two spots open for new comers. If I push very hard, maybe three. That’s nothing. I don’t conceive my schedule in terms of how many students I have but how many free spots I’ve left., which is a very different mentality.

So, the story I just told you is to try to illustrate the ups and down of living a life.  Top of the mountain right before Covid: all is good. Bottom of the pit right after when I was left with a dozen pupils. Back to the top now. But there is a caveat, and that might be the moral of this blog: back to the top thanks to a ton of thinking, planning and work, work, work. Take what you will from this.


Sol Garnier teaching a boy how to play drums