I’m going to start teaching piano lessons this week again. I LOVE piano teaching. Last semester, I had 9 students, and here is the picture from my Christmas recital on December 9!
I had them play at a senior living center for the recital because it really blesses the people there, I shadowed a music therapist during my undergrad for a summer at that place, and it’s free to reserve a room. ???? I love how my students get to know each other at recitals and events and when they see each other before and after lessons.
This coming semester, I’m teaching 2 days a week for the first time because I have 13 students, the largest amount I’ve had! I’m a bit nervous about my schedule since grad school is so intense, but I do enjoy teaching. I also already have a waiting list for summer!
My eye issues don’t detract from my teaching abilities except that I have trouble sight-reading. This is not because I cannot read the music; I always say that I can see it if I get close enough to it. My eyes are very good for having albinism. However, I do have difficulty tracking, and I see double. I don’t always notice the double vision, but it makes my eyes tired, and I think it makes it hard for them to work together. So, when I accompanied vocal students, I always said I needed the music before the lesson because I have such a hard time sight-reading. If I would work really hard at it and maybe take some piano lessons dedicated to that, I think I would get better at it, and that would help me with teaching.
There is one other difficulty with teaching, it isn’t a big deal. At times, I have trouble reading the titles, notes, and page numbers when I sit in my chair and the music is on the piano rack in front of a student. I can compensate for this by asking the student what it says, pulling the book closer, or getting up.
Like I often say, disabilities don’t have to hold me back, and they can give me–and others!–new opportunities. For example, when I had tendinitis over the summer, I did not play piano at all, even while teaching. You might think this would make me need to quit teaching, but it actually made my students learn to listen to my explanations because I couldn’t show them. It probably helped me learn to explain things well, too.
There are some one-handed pieces on piano that someone else played during my senior year of my undergrad, and one person complimented him that, “It really sounds like you’re playing with two hands!” I had a different view. I don’t think the compliment should necessarily be that it sounds “normal” but that it sounds uniquely artful. So I told him, “You don’t have the same limits as you did before. It doesn’t have to sound two-handed. Make it a beautiful one-handed piece.”
So there’s one of my philosophies for life. Make the hard things beautiful by seeing how those things change you and how you’ve grown through them.