Saturday, 7 May 2011
Smiles and Goals
The smile that softens the hardest of hearts !
My first full week back teaching ! The weather was still glorious, sunny and with bright bluebell blue skies, and undoubtedly it makes us all feel so lifted in spirits. As it was the start of the term, invariably it revolves around new music, new plans and reflections on what passed last term. Those who did the Song School were all so upbeat about the experience, and had so clearly upped their game, it was a joy to behold!
I rarely expect anyone under 12 to have done much in the way of practice over official holidays - actually I think it is a good thing to let it all lie fallow for a few weeks and then come back with renewed excitement. This leads to a positive start and a quick gather of momentum.
I love setting new goals for my pupils, and letting them see a forward plan - there is nothing like a PLAN ! That could be a song from South Pacific!!
Last term I started my first adult piano pupil in about 25 years. I stopped teaching piano eons ago when singing took over as a career, and then my teaching was obviously going to be in my 'first study'. However, a most musical and talented young man whose fiancee I already teach asked me if I would take him on, and give him some direction both technically and musically. He is like a hungry soul looking for a musical home ! It is such a pleasure to teach someone who really wants to learn - he even finds the challenge of tricky scale, hands together, 3 octaves interesting and exciting. I should have mentioned that he already plays with some proficiency, but largely by ear. When a person can get so far without the academic background or the lesson imput, then he really is worth teaching! Anyhow we decided that he should take an exam - his first ever on the piano - so we are shooting for Grade 5 in November ! It came as a bit of a shock to him, but I am such a believer in 'deadlines' that once the aftershocks have subsided he will work with a perfectly manageble goal in sight.
Reading music is the stumbling block for D. He is like a Gourmet Chef with his fingers, but more like 'Beans on Toast' when it comes to reading the black dots ! With the looming of an exam the reading will happen quite quickly I hope, so he will even be able to tackle the sight reading with some confidence.
Actually, he is a lovely addition to my week - he has the distinct advantage of being a handsome and smiley young man, and they have always been able to twist me around their little finger - and with any luck he won't read this, so he will never know!
Years ago, when I taught in a boys boarding school I had to learn to harden my heart when a blond smiler popped his head around my studio door and told me in the most polite way that he could not make his lesson, or his homework would be late. 'So sorry Miss L, the dog ate my homework'. The dog, I would retort, but you are at boarding school ! At that point the aforesaid sheepish and engaging smile crept over his face, and would have melted the polar ice cap !
The 'hard' was only ever temporary - I almost always buckled under the radiant smile.