The First Six Months

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Before

October marks the six month anniversary of setting up my Teaching Practice.   I have been incredibly fortunate in that I now have a Practice full of wonderful students, aging from 3 up to – well, I won’t say.   And as I reach this (albeit small) milestone, I reflect on my new life as a Piano teacher and how it differs from my previous life in the corporate world – and, in particular, how glad I am that I made that career change earlier this year.

I have a wonderful mix of students – from my early years’ children of 3 and 4-year olds, through to my adult beginners –and lots in between!    There’s the 5-year old girl who can’t stop giggling every time we play the note ’goose’ (or  ‘gooooooose’ as we have tended to pronounce it); the 4-year old fidgety boy who needs to spend at least 15 seconds rubbing his hands before setting his fingers into a playing position (and then proceeds to play very nicely); the 3-year old (and 1 month!) girl who – I admit – I thought was probably a bit too young to start, but is already, after just a few weeks, reading and playing pieces with 3 notes very fluently as well as demonstrating a strong inner ear and singing voice.  There’s also the 15-year old girl who used to bang through every piece but is now learning how to include phrasing, and contrasting dynamics and really developing a musical ear;  the 9-year old girl who plays with real sensitivity and maturity; and the 5-year old boy who plays as if he was born to play the piano.   Oh, and my adult student who was born to play the Beethoven Bagatelles!

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After

Every student is unique; and all have their different strengths.  Some pick up certain concepts very easily – e.g.  notation and interval reading – but may struggle with a good hand position and relaxed posture when playing.  Others struggle with the notation but are still able to improvise and play with some real musical ability.  For example, I have recently taken on a 10-year old girl who has been playing for a couple of years. Her note reading needs a lot of work, but when I showed her the classic ‘four chords’ (on which all popular music is based- see this great YouTube video) – she was able to write her own pieces which showed some real musical talent and a great ear.

In just a few months I have noticed how each of my child students are developing and maturing – not just as musicians but also as part of their natural growing-up.   As me and my students get to know each other, it is great to see them develop not only their ability to sing, listen and play – but also to focus and concentrate in the lessons for longer periods of time.  I often post links on my Facebook page to articles extolling the values of music education to improve all areas of life (academically, emotionally, creatively) and I really do believe that regular music lessons can benefit a student in so many ways.

This time last year I was still working in the corporate world; travelling extensively, permanently jet-lagged and getting ground down by constant demands and office politics.  Friends tell me I looked a lot older then than I do now.  Much about my job was good – I liked the Company I worked for, I made some great friends and I was lucky that it allowed me to see many parts of the world.  However, enough was enough.  Now my life is immeasurably different – I spend 30 or 60 minutes once a week with each of my students.   In the case of my child students I am possibly one of the few adults, other than close family, who has this one-to-one time with them.  And I realise that – if I notice how they grow and develop in just a few short months – then I really want to see how they will continue to do so over the next few years, if I have the privilege to keep working with them.  Fifteen years in the corporate world bought me some great rewards (and handbags).   The next fifteen / twenty (or more!) years in teaching will – I am sure – bring even greater ones – and I can’t wait!

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6 thoughts on “The First Six Months

  1. All power to your elbows, Rebecca – and wrists! I’m delighted you’ve made such a success of the transition. And thanks for your company at all the concerts…
    Barry

  2. Hello Rebecca,
    I gave up a career in the corporate world and started teaching the piano 12 years ago. It’s been a wonderful experience and i truly did not realise i would love teaching as much as i do until i started. All the best.
    Eliza

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