Recently a friend of mine who also teaches piano lessons shared a story with me about a new student she began teaching for the summer. After her first lesson with the small wide-eyed five-year old boy, the parent immediately began to question her, “How is his musical talent? Does he have good rhythm? Can he understand how to read music? I just don’t want to invest all this money into lessons if he doesn’t have any natural music talent!”
My friend graciously reminded the parent to be mindful of the age of her son and that any craft – especially music – takes time, dedication, patience and perseverance.
The process of teaching and learning music is just that: a process. More than a process, it is a journey. As music instructors who have ourselves endured years of private lessons, as well as rigorous music programs at the college and university level, we each have our own journey as well. Some of our students may one day darken the doorways of massive cathedrals and concert halls, and others of our students may only pick up and strum an instrument for a few short months. Each journey is different for each child.
Is there a way to tell if a child is naturally musical? Yes. Can the skill of playing an instrument be learned? Yes. But both require the same things in different ways: patience, perseverance and an investment of time, money, sweat, and a fair amount of tears.
As teachers we can encourage our students to enjoy the process and journey of making music, so music grows into a gift they can carry with them through their lives. Anything worth having requires some amount of sacrifice. No matter where our students begin and end, teachers have the privilege of investing in the lives of their students, whether for six months or six years.
Let’s all take joy in the journey.