The other day I was in my local drugstore, Conley’s (family owned!), picking up some stuff for my mom. One of the ladies that works there, greeted me with her usual, “Hi Jul!” and we got to chatting. She didn’t know I was a piano teacher. As soon as she did, and this happens a lot, she launched into her own story about lessons when she was a kid. She told me she had lessons over at the convent, and the nuns would whack her hands every time she hit a wrong note.
If I had a buck for every time I’ve heard this story, well, I could buy myself a really nice cocktail dress! Makes me sad every time I hear it. And then yesterday a nice gentleman came to my studio for his first lesson with me. He’s a senior, already an accomplished trumpet player, but has struggled to learn piano for 20 years and yet has never given up. His story moved me, and in places, saddened me: his last two piano teachers were not exactly kind, understanding, or encouraging. My hope is that I can get him where he wants to be, what his goal is—able to open a book of music and play anything inside. And I’m not interested in getting him to a place in which I think it should be played—which is the approach of many teachers—but that he plays to his satisfaction, not mine.
Music has meaning in our lives whenever we play, whether we are any “good” at it or not. After 43 years of heading to the piano to play or practice, I still get excited heading over. When I sit down in front of the keys, it’s like I’m home, and sitting down with a really good friend. 🙂
I’m adding this link to my site and posting it here: these are wonderful books of beginning music—I use these most often in my studio with beginning adult learners—and are great for seniors either just starting out at, or returning to—sometimes after decades of being away—the piano. You can download examples of the music in Ms. Perez’s books, as well as mp3 files to play along with.