After a week of giving piano lessons, some of which have tried my patience more than normal, I am just really thankful for my piano teachers. Mrs. Benjamin was my teacher from Kindermusik through my senior year of high school. She went to Kenya for maybe 2 years in the middle and I during that time, I had the wonderful Mrs. McDade. In college I had Carolyn - what a gift from God! These ladies taught me the basics and much more. They pushed me, challenged me and loved me enough to tell me the truth and help correct my mistakes. They saw potential in me and did not give up on me. They encouraged me and made me laugh. They took time to get to know me as Emily, not just another piano student. They figured out the way I was wired and taught me in ways that worked with my wiring. They shared spiritual truth with me about how God created me and the potential I had to serve him with my music. All this happened while I fell in love with music and particularly the instrument of the piano.
I have memories of Mrs. B cutting my nails because I let them grow too long (I HATED that but she was firm yet kind and cut them right off) and I'm sure this was after warning me the nails needed to be trimmed by 'next time'. I have memories of her patiently tapping the beat on the piano, helping me develop my rhythm/counting skills. I remember her purple carpet in her old piano room and playing MANY duets as I got older. She taught me how to do all sorts of cool things on the Kurzweil Keyboard she had in her piano studio. I remember waiting in her living room for my lesson - smells of dinner cooking in her kitchen - her kids coming in and out of the house for various activities.
I never remember Mrs. B loosing her temper with me (she didn't!). I remember her patience and her ability to convince me that I was completely capable of learning something even if I didn't get it right on my first try (gasp - I'm still a perfectionist at heart and I hate failing). She was great at finding pieces for me that were interesting and kept me practicing (which was no small feat during the high school years when MANY things were competing for my attention). She recognized my ability to sight read and always had new music in front of me. She never gave up on me and we became such good friends. I often have felt like an adopted daughter in her family and spending the summer at Spofford with the Benjamin's solidified that even more. Mrs. B has given me more in the way of 'piano therapy' and spiritual guidance than I think my parents could have ever paid for ... I dearly miss visiting my parents in PA because we always found time for a visit and often duet playing.
Carolyn pushed me even further than I knew I needed to be pushed during the college years. She patiently listened to my stories of homesickness, boy drama, roommate challenges and she prayed with me often. She understood my ability to perform and play directly correlated to the state of my soul. She taught me so many different teaching techniques through my lessons with her. She taught me how to break apart a piece in ways I'd never thought about before and wasn't ready for until college. She helped me hear things within the piano I didn't know existed. She was/is such an amazing piano instructor ... sigh ... I need to take a few lessons from her again! She helped me work through my fear of memorizing a song/failure. She hung in there with me through my pre-recital failures and was my number one cheerleader all the way through. She also celebrated with me greatly when I survived performing my 30 minutes of memorized music required for graduation. She is still a dear friend and I love her to pieces - I just need to make some time to see her more!
These women have inspired me and helped me to realize I truly love the piano! I really do enjoy teaching piano, too. These women I owe so much to and after a week of less-than-stellar teaching moments - I am so utterly grateful for them 'hanging in there' with me. Their example is one always lurking in the corners of my mind, encouraging me to never give up on my students. They are teachers of not only the mind and fingers, but they are teachers of the heart and soul.
For all of these memories and educational moments and so much more - thank you!