I don't use it for much, but I do teach piano lessons. I love teaching -I absolutely LOVE teaching. Teaching is one of my passions in life. It doesn't matter if it's music or gospel or preschool or whatever... I love it. Right now, I have small children at home and that's where I focus my teaching. I hope to someday teach as a career, but right now I settle for what little cash I can make as a piano teacher.
I took a break from teaching piano lessons during the month of December. This week, I've started back up again. It's been so refreshing to see my little students again. It's also been much easier to teach without having to get up to use the restroom every 15 minutes. I can lean forward and bend over and my tolerance level is back up where it should be.
My first students to return came yesterday. They are two sweet sisters (and my cousins) -the older of which is in high school... we'll call her Micayla.
Micayla is musically inclined. Music just MAKES sense to her -she gets it. I never have to explain anything twice. She isn't musically proficient, or anything... she just gets the language of music.
It should make her easy to teach.
But she isn't easy to teach.
Yesterday, I put a piece of music in front of her that she had never seen. I do this every lesson with each of my students. It's very important to teach piano students how to SIGHT-READ a piece of music. Very often in life (and especially in the church) piano players are called on to play a piece of music they have never seen before. Sight reading is a vital skill for a piano player.
"Sight read this," I said, and I sat back.
"Okay," she said. She squinted her eyes, her body tensed, she leaned far forward and she played it as flawlessly as she possibly could.
I never, ever pick songs that my students could easily pluck out.
I challenge each of my students based on their skill level.
As I watched Micayla, I realized that she was striving for perfection -absolute perfection. She wouldn't have anything less. With every mistake -and there were many, which was to be expected -she groaned, she stopped progressing and cursed herself before moving on.
I watched her and wondered... why hadn't I realized it before?
I don't want a perfect sight-reader.
If I had a perfect sight-reader, why would they bother with a teacher?
Micayla, I realized, doesn't want to LEARN from me so much as she wants to IMPRESS me.
She wants to come to her lesson and impress me with all the work she's already done. The thought of coming before me -her teacher and older cousin -and MESSING UP was just too awful to fathom.
But I don't want perfection.
I want to give her a challenge, something she's never come up against, and see how she handles it. I want to see where she makes mistakes -see what passages slow her down. Then -together -we can work on those difficult passages. I don't condemn her mistakes. I don't condemn HER. In fact, I WANT her to make mistakes so we can learn more, reach higher, and attain a higher skill level.
While it's fun to sit and listen to her play songs perfectly, it nullifies my job as a teacher.
As I watched her curse herself through a song she'd NEVER SEEN, I realized that I have the same tendency.
I don't want to mess up because I know the Master Teacher is watching. I want to IMPRESS HIM with how well I'm doing with the challenges in front of me.
As a co-dependent, I'm looking for validation -for a pat on the head -for approval.
As a human, that's exactly what I DO NOT need.
I'm slowly learning this.
Last year, I let go of perfection.
This year will be the year I learn to let go of my need for approval and validation.
I want to come before my Master Teacher covered in bruises and bumps and scrapes and say, "I did the best I could, but I messed up at this point and this point and THIS point is just impossible... can you help me? Will you teach me?"
I will not nullify His position as Master Teacher.