Teaching adults the piano is a special privilege and although it can be tough to balance teaching with being a life coach at the same time,I wouldn’t ever change what I do.
Today,I taught a pupil who is now in her eighties.Her early life was spent as a civil servant in Whitehall.She had risen in the ranks and was an excellent assistant in a government department.Long hours and high powered cabinet meetings meant that there was little time for her first love,music.Her memories of concert going,from Covent Garden to the Barbican,Festival Hall,and the Royal Albert hall.When she talks about music,there is genuine love there.
Sadly,about a year ago,I started to notice that her memory for things was showing signs of concern.Her grasp of the basic stave notation showed that she was getting confused with the pitching notes in the treble and bass clef.
I could see that this was becoming frustrating for my pupil,and although I always try to show understanding with my pupils,I could see that this was difficult for her.My initial thoughts following a review of my teaching notes was to do a root and branch change to the structure of my lessons with Jayne.
However,I resisted the temptation to make any drastic changes in the itinerary of Jaynes lesson until I had thought about how I could help her.Then,I had a eureka moment,if I could tap into all those concerts that Jayne had heard as a young woman,then maybe I could use that intimate knowledge that she has got of classical themes to re-calibrate her lessons.
When Jayne reeled off her memories of truly great concerts that she had attended.It became clear to me that I might be able to transcribe many of these themes for piano.Yes,it would take hours to do this,but so much of our work as teachers is of good will,and not for monetary advantage.
Sometimes,stuff happens to us all?Jaynes early life and profession was one of public service at the ministry of health,but her love was music.To me,it seemed like basic human kindness to help my pupil with her love for the Piano,and her love of music.
Our profession at times has,quite rightly been accused of being obsessed with the perpetuation of excellence,but really,our job as teachers is really about little steps of progress that we can help our pupils with.We are all different,we all have stuff to contend with.
I end this blog post with a quote from Twefth night;”If music be the food of love,then play on”.