Confessions of a Music Teacher
“Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.” ~ P!nk
Do you have things that you feel you “should” just naturally know and perhaps feel as though they “should” be naturally easy for you due to your profession or skill set?
I sure do! You see, I own a music studio (Songbird Studio Inc.) and I teach piano and voice. In fact, I’ve played music and sung since 6 years old. And if you know anything about me, you know it’s my thing! But, there are a few things (or more) that just stump me… Every. Time.
The word RHYTHM. I can’t spell it. I always get it wrong. In fact, the ONLY reason it is spelled correctly in this blog is due to (yep) – the all-knowing spellcheck.
The word CHOIR. Again, can’t spell it. I always get it wrong. It just doesn’t make sense to me in how it sounds versus how it’s spelled. (That, and the word Wednesday…)
Singing harmony by ear. Can’t do it. Well, it’s just terribly difficult for me to do by ear and on the fly. And, to be completely honest, has always made me a little insecure about whether that means I am a “true” musician or not. If you’d ask me to chime in with the harmony while someone is singing… I’d need to practice first.
Sight-reading upbeat/up-tempo songs. I love to sight-read and the challenge of it. Just an FYI: sight-reading is playing/singing a piece at “first sight”, without any practice or prior playing. I can fake it really well with the smoother and more predictable songs but give me a song that requires about 7 different chord changes and 3 accidentals within one measure (including a C flat – so wrong) and I’m toast. Teacher taps out!
Impromptu playing of the piano. Have you ever been places that have a piano available for the public to just randomly sit and play? Well, if you’re a piano teacher or even remotely known for playing the piano you will get asked to “sit down and play us something” or “do you know such and such song?” But please don’t be disappointed or overly judgmental if what you hear me play is, in fact, Chopsticks, Fur Elise, or Heart and Soul.
Silence. I wrote about this in my last blog post. I, more often than not, do not listen to music on my “off” times. Obviously, my work involves music all day long. (Can I get a yay!) But it’s the times I am at home or in my car that I usually do not have music playing.
So, these were just a few of my confessions of what I feel I lack in being I am a music teacher. Things I feel I fall short of either in skill or in perception due to my profession. But here’s the deal… we all feel lacking in some way. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I also am guessing that with the year coming to an end we are all thinking about our past year and reminiscing about things we have done or wished we had done, as well as planning and thinking and hoping for the New Year! I love new days so I especially love new YEARS! It’s a thing for me…So is looking at the bright side!
Here’s the bright side:
Spelling woes: Spell-check and autocorrect do, indeed, exist. So do alternate words such as “beat”.
Harmony-less: I am not (currently) on tour as a back-up singer for Mary J. Blige, Justin Bieber, or Taylor Swift so I can relax on the singing harmony thing. Heck, the way I’ve always handled singing a harmony part is to think of it as just another melody – tricks of the trade, perhaps?
Speedy Songs: YouTube does exist and can be used freely for any up-tempo/upbeat song necessary in “karaoke” form to accompany my wonderful voice students. I can always give it a shot and keep trying but have this back-up plan in the meantime.
Play me a song Piano Man/Woman: Well, I would LOVE to challenge myself with learning a couple little ditty’s to sit and play on a whim. I think I may just add this to my New Year’s list. Any suggestions?
The Sound of Silence: I will always appreciate the silence so long as life stays so busy. I am thankful. It provides room to breathe and to enjoy life around me, distraction-free. (unless I’m cleaning the house, in which case music is a requirement)
Instead of hanging my head in shame or hiding my short-comings from others or even over-judging myself for these things I feel I “should” know or be able to do, I will instead work to embrace them and find my strengths. You too? … Because we all have them. We all have short-comings. But guess what…. We all have strengths, too! Work on what needs to be worked on. Be YOU confidently while you do it and never shy away from how we are naturally gifted and made. Our best is exactly that – it’s OUR BEST. Grow and learn but embrace where you are right now. Encourage others in who they are right now, as well as what they are becoming and learning.
Happy Christmas to everyone and a fabulous New Year! Here’s to new beginnings every day and, especially, every year.
Much love and much joy,