Guest Author: Simon Reich “Confessions Series”
Following on from his warmly received guest post “Confessions of a Piano Student“, Simon Reich invited teachers from around the world to answer 8 Questions.
In this series he shares their answers…
Although movies can’t always finish with a happy ending, I thought we’d round up this series with a question that could give teachers a chance to give a positive finale.
“I have a few secondary school teachers as friends. They often remark how they hardly ever hear from former students. So as the last question, Have you ever had a response from a past student, years down the track? Something that really warmed your heart?”
Nikolas Sideris : Yes, and it’s extremely nice! Both times that it happened it made my day!
Jenny Walker : Sometimes. It normally disappears within a couple of years but I get to see them afterwards as they return to musical groups and activities here.
Jimmy Rotherham : I’m still in touch with a lot of the A level students I taught – on Facebook – especially the ones who went on to study music at University. They sometimes come to my gigs, and I sometimes go to theirs.
In terms of private students, I bumped into the parents of a real potential child prodigy I taught when he was 6. His parents were in the audience at a private function I was doing. He went on to an elite music school for kids – he’s 12 now and just completed his grade 7. I said I would go and play piano with him again in the small window I have until he become way better than me 🙂
Ioana Andreea Boancă : My experience has been a weird one. I always get kids that like piano because of me…because of how I teach…or something. And when I had to move to a different school and a different city I heard they didn’t want to continue studying piano, unless it was with me…It’s a little flattering, but not really. I really hoped I had created a strong connection between them and the piano, stronger than my relationship with them…apparently I didn’t.
Gaye Endler : I think my sample of students is too small at the moment. Will enjoy seeing if the same pans out for me.
Naomi Craddock : I don’t keep in touch with previous students, but occasionally will bump into one who tells me that playing the piano helps them to unwind from study or work.
Alison Mathews : Yes, I have which was wonderful. A family that had returned to New Zealand and contacted me years after when they were visiting the UK. I hadn’t appreciated the impact lessons had on my pupil as a child, not only in developing a love of music but having undivided attention and support from a teacher.
Frances Magdalene Wilson : I bumped into a former student recently – a kid I was sorry to see go because he was talented and conscientious. He told me he had a new teacher but “she’s not nearly as good as you, Fran”.
In the reponsesto this question, Alison Matthews shared that she didn’t realise the impact lessons had made, not only musically but as a positive relationship with a trusting adult.
Ioana Andreea Boancă & Frances Magdalene also touched on the students love of their teachers style and how others since have not been able to equal that level.
I have heard stories of teachers whose styles of tutoring was rather harsh and focused on goals not reached or mistakes made (negative) rather than praising progress (positive). One can only surmise that to answering question in the positive meant that your pupils would have needed to make a connection with you and the music in order to have returned years later to express their thanks.
I was heartened by Naomi Craddock’s answer, which didn’t neccessarily focus on her former pupils rising up the skill level ladder and possibly going onto the professional stage, but rather the aquirement of musical skills that had helped them use the piano to unwind from study and work.
Doing the research and compiling the text for this series has been quite cathartic for me personally, as it’s helped me to realise what I went through as a child having lessons, and expunging some of the bad feeling about it.
I am thrilled to hear the future for music teachers is in safe hands if these respondents are an accurate guide to the current batch of teachers. And I hope that “would be” teachers could have a read through this series to prepare for the sensitive area of teaching as an artistic endeavour, as the piano requires.
Thanks again to all the participants and their honest answers. It’s been a real joy to compile this article for you all.
Simon is a pianist and award winning composer from Victoria, Australia.
Further information : Simon Reich Music
Simon is a regular contributor to Pianodao.