For the love of music and people

It’s recital time, one of my favorite activities.

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Three years ago I was the director of an arts academy with almost 90 students. Instructors prepared their students for recital twice a year, in the fall and spring. It was the busiest, most stressful, and hardest weeks of the year as I planned and prepared details to showcase the students’ work.

And it was the most rewarding.

There is nothing quite like listening to young and older ones progressing on the instrument of choice, seeing them grow in stature and in artistic ability. It was a happy weekend.

I retired from that position and now only plan a recital for piano students who come to my home. While it is not nearly as large an event, it is still a busy time. This was the weekend.

I make lists and plan out my strategies. I purchase supplies ahead as much as possible. I delegate when I can, but the week of recital is always busy. I try to keep the designated day free of any other obligations so I can focus on this one thing. The day ends late and I am exhausted when it’s all over.

But the sweet return for my hard work is indescribable.

Years ago I held a corporate position, a demanding job with responsibility and staff to manage. It was one of those goals I had written down years before and it somehow came to fruition. And then one day it was over and gone. Budget cuts eliminated my position, and within a week I was out the door wondering what had happened and where this road was leading me now.

On that day I didn’t have a clue that I would find myself a new career, that of a piano teacher. My love for music led me to share it with others. My fledgling endeavor started slowly, grew by word of mouth, and I’ve had many people sit at my piano through the years. Some didn’t stay long, but some did, the ones who become musicians not just students.

I got a thank-you note this week from a young man to whom I had sent a graduation gift. He was my student for a number of years. His words were so kind, remembering the weekly session we shared at the piano in my living room.

“Sometimes I will sit down and play the piano and think of all that you taught me . . . I will always remember coming to your house on Wednesday afternoons to learn how to play the piano and read music.  Thank you for being patient with me and guiding me as a young man.”

Tears sprang to my eyes as I read. You mean I taught more than note reading and theory? You mean those thirty minutes each week were important to his growing up? I am stunned.

And I am thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to share the skill someone else patiently taught to me. Thankful for that job loss that gave me something completely new. Thankful that God took my meager efforts to make a difference to someone.

Recitals are musically beautiful to me, but they represent something more. There are children growing into teens heading toward adulthood who may remember the treble clef lines as “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” or the meaning of allegro and andante. They might be able to play a minuet or a sonata or a pop tune.

More importantly, will he remember that I cared about the person he was?  Will she know I encouraged the person she was becoming? I hope so.

Teaching music is a skill I learned through practice, just like playing the piano. Learning to love people is a life-long undertaking that requires patience, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, genuine interest and concern.

I haven’t always done it well. I want to do it better.

Having been loved well by people God put in my life, I know how it works, how it continues to affect me. I will keep practicing until I get it right.

 

 

Christmas 2015 2

Christmas 2015 3

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