You always hear in the news how music education is important for children. It helps their grades, their social skills, their problem solving skills, helps them gain leadership skills, and so much more. There is no argument that music education is not valuable for children. I personally believe that every child should have the opportunity to have music lessons.
Something that isn’t mentioned often is the overwhelming benefits of being a music teacher on your own well-being.
No matter what is going on in the world, once my students walk into my room for their weekly lesson, everything that is worrying me drops off and I am immersed in the music world. Not an intense, competitive music world that can so often be a stressful addition rather than a helpful one, but a music world filled with innocence, creativity, wonder, and pure love and laughter.
I just finished teaching a new student, giving them a trial lesson. This is a student who wasn’t sure what she wanted to play, so we decided to let her try out a bunch of different options to see what she liked the most. Since it was her first ever music lesson, I decided to stick to piano, as it is more approachable and easy to progress with initially than, say, the violin. We started out the lesson with a quick explanation of how the piano is laid out, how to sit, and how to use your fingers and the different numbers each finger has. Then, we quickly played through some songs at the beginning of the Fabre piano adventures primer lesson book (my favorite), adding some of our own additions to the song. (For example, in the “I Like” song, we change the lyrics to, “I like dogs, I DON’T like cats,” adding some eighth notes.) We finished off the lesson with introducing half notes and dynamics (forte and piano.) In our last few minutes, we played the “copy-cat” game, where we each play a rhythm with a set few notes- C, D, and E in this case- and the other has to copy it. This sweet girl was filled with so much joy, laughter, and creativity, that it was rubbing off on me like a strong perfume. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter with her when she played a little too loud, or played with the wrong hand. She pretended to conduct me while I demonstrated a song for her, which made me burst into laughter all on my own.
At the end of the lesson, I wanted to photocopy the last song we worked on for her to take home, so I said, “Let’s take a magical trip to the copy machine together!”
She instantly lit up, and burst out of the room and pretended to fly down the hallway, flapping her hands as if they were wings. In that moment, she didn’t care that other parents were staring at us, or that I was a new grownup that she just met. She was expressing her joy and happiness in the best way that she could in that moment- by flying down the hall on a magical trip to the copy machine- without a single care in the world.
Being a music teacher gives me the wonderul and unique opportunity to exist in the mind of a child for thirty minutes; to express my own joy through silly games and jokes, and shared laughter between teacher and student. I could say that we should all strive to be like my student, expressing her joy with abandon, but I am also a realist and acknowledge that it just isn’t possible for adults to always act that why. I can, however, allow myself to act like this in the music world, and especially while teaching. What an incredible gift us music teachers have, that we are able to express ourselves like a child would- especially while on a magical trip to the copy machine.