Right here right now

Tracy Rose ALCM online piano teacher

Tracy Rose ALCM online piano teacher

A graphic designer friend of mine has been working for a couple of years on two children’s books which she hopes one day to get published. One is about two animals who have to build a boat and make their way home from an island where they have been stranded; the other is about a sloth who falls asleep on top of a van and wakes up in a circus where he has to perform on a trapeze (his ability to cling comes in useful).

Framed pictures of her characters hang in the bedroom and kitchen. They haven’t seen the light of day in a book yet, and she thinks she needs to develop them further, but my friend is proud of them and is rewarding herself for having worked on them for so long.

In teaching too, one needs to invent rewards. Students may be concentrating on the future: passing an exam, being able to have a conversation in a foreign language, mastering a dance routine. Many of these achievements will happen outside lessons, even after the end of the course.

So we teachers know that we need to give rewards along the way, as my artist friend did by framing her designs. These may take many forms: grades, achievable tasks, encouraging comments.

This helps both teacher and students to enjoy lessons and identify progress. But more than this, it shows that a lesson, as well as preparation for the future, can be a valid, worthwhile experience in itself. I was thinking about this after the concert which my piano students performed in two weeks ago.

There is no doubt that the concert was good practice for those students who were performing their exam or audition pieces; it helps with nerves if one has performed for others beforehand. It was also good publicity for my teaching business.

But it was principally an event to be enjoyed for itself, a pleasure. We were enjoying the students’ music now. Not sometime in the future when the students know their audition pieces backwards, or pass an exam with them, or finally master that tricky bit. Today, when their parents, grandparents or friends are watching them and listening to the music they are playing and songs they are singing. Right here right now.

April 9, 2015