Header

Musings

March 13th, 2010 | Posted by Brinestone in Kids | Piano Teaching | Random Musings - (2 Comments)

1. It’s the season for moving, I guess. My dear sister, Kenneren, just moved out of our parents’ house on Thursday. My grandparents are moving to a smaller place that’s much easier to maintain, Jonathon’s brother’s family just bought a house, his parents are househunting with varying degrees of success, and his sister is seriously planning to move to another state. And here we are, staying in the same place for another year or more. In the past ten years, the longest I have stayed in one place without moving is two years. The three (at least) we’re planning on staying here feel so long, in both a really nice, settled (three years? Ha!) way, and in a grating way. The longer you live in a place, the more friends you make, the more connections you have, and the more it feels like home. But the longer you live in a place, the more irritating its flaws seem. Still, this has been a good home for us so far, and I’m glad we’re not joining the mad rush to go live somewhere else right now.

2. I find it interesting that my boys have no shame about lauding themselves when they do a good job. When Lego learned to walk, he’d clap for himself while walking. Yesterday he was playing his harmonica and whispered in my ear that he wanted me to clap for him when he finished each “song.” If I forgot once or twice, he’d remind me, “Clap, Mommy!” Duplo will say, “Good job!” and “Did it!” when he successfully does something. Even my piano students, aged 8–10, will tell me stuff like, “I know I’m going to pass off all my songs today!” and “I did awesome!” As adults, though, we’re so afraid of bragging that we don’t praise ourselves. At least, I don’t, not even silently to myself. No matter what I do, I think I should have done it a bit better, or maybe think that others do that sort of thing all the time, that it’s no big deal. Instead, I should learn from my little boys the joy that comes from doing something that’s hard for you, and knowing you nailed it. Good job! You did it!

Piano lessons

September 29th, 2008 | Posted by Brinestone in Piano Teaching - (5 Comments)

When I was about five, I thought I wanted to be a librarian or a piano teacher. A librarian because I loved to read and a piano teacher because it seemed logical considering I was learning to play the piano.

I reconsidered teaching piano when I got mine in March 2007, but I didn’t feel ready yet, and I didn’t know how to start. Then an absolutely lovely 90-year-old lady in our last ward offered to teach me what she called the best method for teaching piano out there. She said she’d taught for fifty years on the standard method she’d learned at Juilliard, but her students always had the same problems: poor sightreading skills, better control of the right hand than the left, and difficulty with any key other than C, G, and F. She then went on to say that she’s been using this new method for the past twenty years (you do the math) with consistent results. Of course I accepted the offer.

The books she uses are ugly, and the songs for the first two or three levels are nowhere near as fun to play as what you get in the more standard methods. I started teaching with them in August, though, and already I’m seeing the difference. One of my students had taken a year of lessons or so, and he came to his first lesson ready to play a song for me. I was impressed at first—it seemed like a pretty advanced song for someone who’d only played for a year. After another lesson or two, though, I realized that he couldn’t really read music at all, and he was thrown for a loop by any note out of his comfort zone of C position, G position, and F position. So I did a crash course on the stuff he’d missed from level A of the books I’m using, and already I can tell that he’s figuring out notes, thinking things through, instead of winging it. And my other student, who is starting from the beginning, is playing all over the piano without thinking twice about it. It’s so awesome.

I really need to call that lady and thank her. I love teaching piano, and I love seeing my students learn so quickly and so well.