As a child I never really had the opportunity to learn music. Actually I was never able to connect on an educational or personal level with the music teachers in school or the community.
To be honest, our small town provided few opportunities. Plus my parents didn’t have the means to hunt around for a teacher who connected with my unique style. It’s not due to a lack of effort on my parents’ part. When I mentioned that I wanted to learn violin they not only rented an instrument, but also sent me to an inexpensive teacher. A Suzuki teacher. Even today I cringe at the rigidity of those lessons.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this method works. It just did not work for me. Truthfully, I was so young & so resistant to the teacher that I honestly do not know if I quit due to my lack of practice & declining interest, the teacher, or due to the method in general.
However, despite my poor experience I still have an appreciation for music. I also have an appreciation for the educational benefits which music theory provides. This appreciation has been extended to my children.
Over the past 8 years I have spent countless hours encouraging my children to practice, learn, & love an instrument. Personally I don’t care which instrument, style of music, or method my kids learn just so long as they learn. The last thing I want to do is stifle their creative talent & interest by imposing my desires.
This lack of interest in expecting musical prodigies or “efficios” has actually caused a few raised eye brows. Seriously folks! All I want are teachers who are will to work with my children’s interests, know when to push or back off, & be willing to learn with my kids if need be. I do not expect the teachers to be knowledgeable in all things music, but I do expect them to be flexible. For example a violin teacher my daughter had was not familiar with fiddling, but because they had a good rapport the teacher was willing to learn also. She had instructed my daughter in classical for a couple of years so when my little girl had decided to switch to a more folksy sound the teacher was disappointed. Not because she disapproved, but because she wasn’t an expert & thought we would need to find a new teacher. Well nothing could have been further from the truth.
You see I believe that teachers do not have to be experts in everything. They just need to be expert mentors & learners. So I explained that I’d be willing to pay the normal rate if she was willing to learn along with my daughter. As a result their bond was stronger & my daughter saw first had that learning is a life long process.
This same expectation of flexibility has been applied to all of my children’s music teachers. It’s an expectation I’ve developed after being pushed around by a couple of early teachers. As a result I’ve received a few strange looks. Those looks grow even stranger when I explain that I also pay a week early & for missed lessons as long as it was due to my scheduling conflicts. After all, why punish the teacher for something we did? That just doesn’t make sense. Oh, & I almost forgot to mention that my kid gets to decide if the teacher is doing an adequate job. After all I’m not taking the lesson!
As a result I have three children who play what they love & they practice. My daughter is an adult now so she is currently self-taught. As a matter of fact if your a Scout who went through Philmont’s Ponil you may have met her. She’s a ray of Sunshine who improvs on the fiddle & guitar.
My two boys have played the trumpet, piano, drums, & guitar. Currently their interests are centered around the piano & the guitar. The oldest boy plays classical piano while my youngest play country guitar. The result has been a very interesting & joyful ensemble of practice sessions at home.
Tonight was as equally entertaining. The boys performed in a recital & they did it their way. One played & sung a country song while the other fingered his way through Cannon D, Pachelbel, from memory. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way my memory player thought it should. I thought he did very well (he certainly did better than I could). However he felt he could have performed better. Actually I think he simply realized that playing from memory at home & playing from memory to an audience is different. Despite a couple of mistakes I think his performance was grand. He persevered through the mistakes & he learned how to perform better the next time. In my book this makes his performance a success.
To put it simply….it’s not how well you perform initially….it’s how you perform overall.
Don’t why wait! Do what I tell my kids….Play hard…play well! Hmmmm….I think it’s time for me to do the same.