Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Piano Lessons

Monday, February 24, 2014
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Robert was a piano teacher.  I can remember the little kids and their parents coming through our door to meet him.  The families would interview him, but he was also interviewing the family.  He would ask to make sure that the child had a genuine interest in music.  He wanted to instill a lifelong love of music in his students.  To him, it didn't matter if they took piano for one year or ten as long as they loved music.  He was not one of those teachers that demanded hours of practice each week-although ironically, most of his students did practice a lot.  They flourished under him.  I saw timid small children develop stage presence and confidence.  I heard from parents that Robert was a LIFE CHANGING teacher for their child.  Many of his students still stay in contact with me, and his death shook most of them to their core.  I still have a memory of a very special student on his knees praying the rosary with his mother at Robert's wake.  I have preserved the letters that the children wrote to me after his death. 

Since he died, his piano has sat silent.  It haunts me. I don't play it because every time that I do, I end up in tears.  Munchkin however, has free reign.  He can play it whenever he wants.  I have taught him to not bang or kick on it when he was very little so he sits on the bench and plays the keys.  He loves to explore the sounds that the keys make.  He is absolutely intrigued by the tuning process and will sit and watch the piano tuner when he comes.   My heart aches with the things that Robert misses on seeing.  Keep in mind as soon as he could sit up, Robert had him on the piano bench next to him.  Robert would play and Munchkin would imitate him at four months old!

When Munchkin was 2 and 3 he took group piano classes in his Montessori school.  He loved it and did very well.  He was reading already so he mastered things much faster than other kids.  He was young so I didn't push him right away into a teacher, but for 3 years I have been on a quest for the "perfect" teacher for us. 

I have interviewed more teachers than I can count.  Some use a method that I just don't care for and since he reads very well, isn't necessary.  Others won't take a kid until a certain age, regardless of the innate desire of the child...nope that rigidity isn't what I was looking for. 

One of the biggest obstacles is finding someone who doesn't have any preconceived notion of Munchkin in that he is our child.  Do I expect that he will have a love and talent for music, ABSOLUTELY!  Do I wish that to be held over him and have him held to a different standard than his age peers...NO WAY!  Why is this an issue--we live in a very small town, many of the music teachers that are well known taught either my husband or myself OR took lessons from my husband 20 years ago.  That is a mighty high wall for a six year old! Couple that with my desire to not drive 45 minutes round trip to one of the colleges and it is difficult to say the least.

After years of talking and interviewing, I found a person who has no associations with the local schools and therefore didn't know us.  She is FABULOUS!  She and I exchanged email questions for a few weeks.   We spoke on the phone for over an hour.  She uses a method series that I was unfamiliar with, but was kind enough to lend me the books so that I could review it myself (it is new to the market after Robert's death, but I really do like it! I also like the fact that Munchkin won't be reusing any of "daddy's music" and will have his own books--hopefully holding his own identity in music!)  We were on a waiting list for a spot to open up.  I had been on that list for several months.   One day, Munchkin asked if he could learn piano again, and she happened to call me that day to say she had an opening!

He started lessons with him a month or so ago.  He loves it.  Every Friday night he gets to go and "play games" while I listen.  He responds well to her and she just loves him.  I can see how well she treats and stretches her students to learn.  It is comforting for me to see him flourish!  I am glad that instead of bringing heartache for the both of us, it is something that Munchkin is thoroughly enjoying. 

She teaches to HIS style, which is something ROBERT was always doing and clearly differentiated him in the marketplace.  Munchkin's teacher has figured out that he loves creativity and he is learning the fundamentals through improv and games.   I could not have picked a better fit for him!   I am grateful that this woman was placed in our lives and will hopefully help me to help Munchkin develop his own love of music!

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