Many years ago in my music teaching career, I taught many mini piano lessons in a school setting where I was also the Music Teacher for the whole school. I taught piano lessons before school, during school and also after school, driving to the homes of students for regular half-hour lessons. I could be seen driving around in my little car all over this area where I live going from house to house until 6 pm and in the summer, even on a wider track for summer lessons from 8am until about 1pm during the vacation season.
I have not done that for a very long time, teaching now in a studio where students come to me. Except….for the Elders, occasionally for reasons, usually physical, that keeps them from driving comfortably. When serving this age group, it is possible that sometimes one must make the choice for a valued student to do “out-lessons” driving to their home instead of their coming to you.
Stevie is one of these students who is an “out-lesson” . I love driving to her home full of warmth and welcoming, as it helps her, and also it gets ME up and moving about away from my familiar patterns…and I shop for groceries on the way home, eliminating a special extra trip in my day for that task.
Stevie is a wonderful enthusiastic student, her music full of intense personal expression, choosing music from her favorite stage plays, films and romantic songs from the past that have deep meaning and memories for her. She is sometimes not fussy about the EXACT counting on the page as she plays with such passion and emotion, employing rubato freely… I tease her and tell her that she plays the piano like a chanteuse sings and that I should bring a feather boa to drape over her shoulders while at the keyboard. I love her LOVE of the music she plays and her individual renderings of the pieces she selects on her own. I respect her choices, and I respect her personal expressions “off-the=page”… and her interpretations “according to Stevie”. It is a joy to be with her!
Tooling around in my little car for out lessons for so many years and having taught piano lessons to so many CHILDREN and FAMILIES for over 30 years has had its advantages away from the keyboard. Several summers ago, I was driving to a summer vacation “out-lesson” for one of my teenager students who did not yet drive. I took a back road to avoid beach traffic and I guess I was going faster than the speed limit of 25mph (easy to do, right?). As I came around a bend in the road, out stepped a police officer from his parked police car, parked on the side, lights flashing. “Uh-oh” I thought as he flagged me over and sauntered up to my car in the way that they do that. I rolled down the window and he peered in and said “License and Registra………..?? ???? AH..MRS. GREEN?? I’m Sarah’s Dad!….” I had taught his daughter piano for many years both at school and privately at their home!
Needless to say, I did not have to supply my license and registration nor did I receive a ticket. Just a gentle caution that the road was windy and to be careful.
In any case, as a music teacher these days we must make the personal choice to teach either home or studio based, or to drive to our students where THEY are in this day of working parents, after-school activities and dwindling populations of willing students to begin with. Making a living at this craft is often a challenge. For me, many years of being on the road to get to students is pretty much over, but for the occasional elder student…it is also a delightful time out for me also, even while “working”.
From Christine, The Piano Mistress
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