Embarking upon a musical journey with a child requires more than one boarding passenger. While a student eases onto the piano bench, front and center, parents are truly in the driver’s seat. They need to provide necessary support for an undertaking that has lifetime value. Otherwise, registered ambivalence about the role of music in the education of a child, will mar the sheer delight of music-making and undermine the baby-step process that makes this possible.
I’ve spoken before about cultural shifts, where Sports is deified, placed at the top of the Millennium’s activity pyramid. The hero worship that’s embodied in this Spartan culture, forbids mom from pulling Ambrose out of soccer. If she does, he’ll be tagged “a quitter,” humiliated by his coach and team members. (The aftershocks will reverberate for decades, culminating in a “sports deprived childhood” and a snug fit on the Analyst’s COUCH)
But if mother shuffles the schedule so A. can keep soccer amidst swimming, tennis and horseback riding lessons, then the remaining vestige of a civilized culture in the Athenian spirit, can be tossed aside with the speed of an Olympiad discus throw. Did I hear “piano” echoing into the wind?
A few days ago, I was surprised to hear from a student whom I taught in the early 1990s. At the time, she was a young teen, whose mother was very musically supportive. In fact, mom sat in on lessons, and enjoyed listening to Jeannie parcel out voices in the Schumann Arabesque. She knew and understood the value of an embryonic growth process that culminated in full blossoming beauty. And so it went for the years we all worked harmoniously together, until college beckoned–too far away to continue a three-way music fest.
Jeannie’s recent telephone call to me, out of the blue, was very touching. She had become a mother, and lived within a few miles of me. Naturally, she was eager to start her little ones on piano.
Her bristling enthusiasm was evident, and while I knew this might be a purrfect match, the tender ages of the children, and my promise to teach only adults precluded my involvement as mentor.
So I advised Jeannie, that perhaps she should delay instruction and bathe the children in great music of varied genres, continuing their Music Together classes, and exposures to Children’s concerts.
Her urgency drowned out my reservations. She insisted that at least the 5-year old was ready, and perhaps the 3 yr. old, would join in soon after.
Given her green light, I decided to help. I dashed off emails to a select list of MTAC members whom I knew to be reputable teachers and fine musicians.
Within 15 minutes of my mouse tap, SENT, two responded with an interest in meeting the young child, and it was based upon what I had said in the introduction about MOM and her LOVE and support of MUSIC, not to mention the cultural exposure she had steadily nourished in the home and beyond.
It was the treasured start most in our profession relish.
Mom was thrilled to know about the positive connections I’d made and was buoyantly happy about the turn of events.
In short, I have no doubt that the new teacher, young child and her mom, will work as a harmonious trio, nurturing a musical journey along to new heights of joy! That’s what I would wish for them.
PIANO DROPOUT RATES: How the initial interview is better than a crystal ball
PIANO LESSONS: SKIMMING THE SURFACE OR GETTING DEEPLY INVOLVED
A PIANO TEACHER’s WORST NIGHTMARE!
PULLS and TUGS: Two Sides to the student/teacher piano lesson relationship
WHEN BAD NEWS ARRIVES BY EMAIL THAT A STUDENT IS DROPPING PIANO
THE PARENT/TEACHER RELATIONSHIP: Striking the right balance